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According to the World Health Organization WHO, the global mental health complications stand at approximately 450 million people. Although third world countries show a higher prevalence, mental illnesses also hit developed countries, including the United States. In addition, jails and prisons record relatively high numbers of mental health complications. In prisons, both the prison workers and the prisoners suffer from mental illnesses.

The fact that jails and prisons have no control of those brought to them for incarceration results in high mental health cases. Also, the delusion that people who have mental complications threaten society makes them be confined in prisons. Moreover, the community has laxity for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of the mentally sick.

What is mental health?

Mental health is a condition of fitness in which people recognize their competencies, can endure the everyday pressures of life, can labor fruitfully, and are fit to add to their community.

Mental health is elemental to our aggregate and sole potential as human beings to think, show our emotions, socialize, earn a living, and cherish life. On this accord, the enhancement, safeguard, and strengthening of mental well-being can be deemed an indispensable concern of persons, communities, and societies worldwide.

Likewise, faulty mental health is connected with sudden social shift, stressful working environments, gender stigmatization, social rejection, unhealthy habits, poor physical health, and civic rights violations.

Types of mental health complications

Mental disorder is a broad terminology that denotes many complications. Such include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, just but to mention a few.

Factors causing high mental health complications in prisons

Prison environment: The conditions in most state and federal prisons breed mental illnesses. For example, bullying, lack of personal privacy, drug and substance abuse behind bars, overpopulation, poor mental health, and counseling services.

Prisons as Lockup centers:  In some instances, mentally sick people are confined in prison rather than taking them for mental assessment and treatment.

How to address mental health complications in prisons

Sometimes idleness in prisons fuels mental health complications such as depression and anxiety. Prisoners should be kept physically and mentally active, not sink into thoughts that may affect their mental well-being.

State and federal governments have done a lot in setting up counseling facilities in the prisons. Still, there is much to be done. Prisoners and prison workers should easily access counseling services whenever they need them.

Unlike physical illnesses, mental complications may take long to diagnose as they are not that painful. It, therefore, requires support groups where those affected can open up and get counseling or medical attention as quickly as possible.

Regular assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses will help in addressing this menace. The government should deploy more mental health specialists to prisons.  

The public should advocate for mental healthcare in jails and prisons as a way to improve general health and reduce reoffending among the released

Advantages of managing mental health complications in prisons

  • Improves prisoners general health, eventually leading to a better quality of life
  • Reduces discrimination or stigmatization in prisons
  • Mentally healthy ex-offenders can adapt to life out of prison, thus reducing the chances of reoffending upon release.
  • It makes the prisons easily manageable and a better working environment for prison staff
  • Participates in creating a safe community hence enhancing public safety.


Mental complications are a serious global health concern. Due to their nature, prisons have higher mental health complications prevalence compared to the outside world. Luckily, we can rescue the situation. We can increase mental healthcare and counseling facilities in prisons and do regular screening and assessments. In addition,  we can encourage prisoners to open up whenever undergoing depressive situations.

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