Mental Health and Incarceration: A Complex Concern for Correctional Systems

Managing mental health in correctional facilities

The link between mental health issues and incarceration is a pressing concern, according to Dr. Wally Campbell, the Chief Psychologist at the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC). He stated that approximately one-third of inmates enter the system with mental health challenges, but many more are diagnosed while in prison.

Dr. Campbell has worked in correctional facilities for over two decades and has seen firsthand how the harsh and stressful environment of prison can exacerbate existing mental health issues or cause situational mental illness. Inmates’ coping mechanisms can be challenged in such a challenging environment, leading to changes in their mental health status.

Upon arrival at IDOC, inmates undergo a screening by nurses in the reception diagnostic unit to determine any immediate mental health crises. The assessment includes questions about their mental health history and current well-being to ensure proper care is provided. Those with mental health struggles are assigned different levels of classification to receive appropriate care.

Treatment for mental illness can help reduce the likelihood of reoffending, but resources are limited when addressing the needs of incarcerated individuals. Dr. Campbell emphasized that while addressing mental health is crucial, it may not solve the underlying criminal behavior of some individuals. The dual challenge of treating mental health and criminal behavior remains a complex issue in correctional facilities.

In conclusion, there is an undeniable link between mental health issues and incarceration, which highlights the need for increased attention and resources towards addressing this complex issue. While treatment can be helpful, there is still much work to be done to ensure that those who struggle with mental health are receiving the appropriate care they need within correctional facilities.

Leave a Reply