Healthcare in prison
It is common for prisoners to have a mental illness. The government says that prisoners should have the same access to healthcare services as everyone else. This section looks at what mental health services you should get if you are in prison.
- You may go into prison because you have committed a crime and been sentenced, or because you are waiting for a court hearing ('on remand')
- If you have a mental illness, there are services that can help you while you are in prison.
- You have the same right to healthcare services as everyone else. The services are provided by the NHS.
- Some prisons have a 'healthcare wing' where you can receive some treatment. Other prisons will get NHS services outside prison to come in and help you instead.
- If you become too unwell to stay in prison, you could be transferred to hospital for specialist care under the Mental Health Act 1983.
- Prison staff will assess your health when you enter prison. This is an ideal opportunity for you to discuss any health concerns you have.
- If you are under the 'Care Programme Approach' (CPA) when you go into prison, the healthcare staff should talk to your care co-ordinator to make sure that you continue to get the help you need.
- Most prisons offer 'listener schemes' which means that you could talk to someone if you need support.
- If you have problems with alcohol or drugs as well as a mental illness, there are specific services which can help you.
- It is important that you get ongoing support when you are released from prison. The prison should help with planning this for you.
These pages are created by Rethink Mental Illness' Advice and Information Service in accordance with the Information Standard. Last reviewed in October 2013. Next review October 2015.
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