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Understanding Mental Health in Prisons

In 2018, 3 Pillars Project will be implementing a Trauma Informed model of intervention for our courses. We believe that the principles underpinning trauma informed practice are essential in the delivery of effective support to young people in prison. A participant does not need to have suffered trauma to benefit from a Trauma Informed approach. Being trauma informed is a way that non-clinical mental health organisations can demonstrate that they are therapeutic. No experience of trauma is necessarily required in order for the trauma informed approach to be effective, consequently even if participants have not experienced trauma they will still benefit from a trauma informed approach.  The first step in this approach came by completing the two-day Mental Health First Aid Training course. Hosted by Robustmind Mental Fitness, delivered by Steve Metcalf, the course gives an introduction to a range of topics relating to mental health, including depression, suicidal crisis, anxiety, self-harm and psychosis, how to help recognise the symptoms of mental health issues, how to provide initial help, and how to guide someone towards appropriate professional help. By no means does it make attendees experts, but it is a good starting point for greater mental health awareness. Approximately one in four adults are diagnosed with a mental illness during their life (Mind, April 2017). Research suggests that prisoners have a disproportionately high rate of mental health issues. Many of these may be present before entry to prison due to complex social and personal issues such as substance misuse or trauma and may be further exacerbated by the stress of imprisonment. However, mental disorders may also develop during imprisonment itself as a consequence of the prevailing conditions that have a negative effect on mental health, including overcrowding, violence, isolation, and insecurity.  Improving the mental health of those in prison requires a change in effort and resources. As part of our work directly engaging with young people in prison, 3 Pillars Project aims to be more aware of the problems faced by those with mental health issues in prison, and in particular support the management of these in prison and beyond.


Registered Charity Number: 1178703 (England and Wales)