Mental health in prisons Contents


There were 84,674 adults in prison in England and Wales in 2016–17, between 10% and 90% of whom are thought to have mental health issues. Rates of self-inflicted deaths and self-harm in prisons have risen significantly in the last five years, suggesting that mental health and overall well-being in prison has declined. There were 120 self-inflicted deaths in prison in 2016 and 40,161 incidents of self-harm, the highest on record. Prisoners with mental health issues face huge challenges in our prison system which witnesses told us that the current prison environment is often ill equipped to deal with.

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) is responsible for the management and operation of prisons in England and Wales and ensuring that the prison environment is safe, secure and decent. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for prison policy and commissioning services in prisons. NHS England is responsible for healthcare in prisons, both for physical and mental health. In 2016–17, NHS England spent an estimated £400 million providing healthcare in adult prisons in England, of which it estimates £150 million was spent on mental health services and substance misuse services, although it could not provide an exact figure.

11 December 2017