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Complete overhaul needed for prison mental health services , says Justice Committee

Root and branch ’ reform is needed for prison mental health support , according to a damning report from the UK Parliament ’ s Justice Committee . Many prisoners have undiagnosed mental health problems and are unable to access care , says Mental health in prison , with the situation likely to get worse without significant reform . The government needs to end the practice of seeing prisons as a ‘ safety net ’ for when mental health provision in the community is inadequate or non-existent , the document states , and calls on the Prison and Probation Service , Ministry of Justice and NHS to implement a system of genuinely integrated care . This would need to improve identification of mental health problems and care provision in prison , as well as supporting proper transition to community-based services on release .

While it ’ s estimated that up to 70 per cent of the prison population may be suffering from mental health issues , just 10 per cent are receiving any treatment . Poor data collection means that the ‘ true scale of the mental health crisis ’ in prisons is unknown , the document adds . The NHS should assess the shortfalls in provision and develop plans to make sure support is equivalent to that available outside , while ‘ also taking into account the specific needs of those in a prison environment ’. It also needs set out plans to improve recruitment and staff retention in partnership with the Prison and Probation Service , the report says .
‘ Mental health in prisons is not treated with the focus it needs ,’ said committee chair Sir Robert Neill MP . ‘ When there isn ’ t sufficient data to even give an indication of the scale of the problem it is clear that there needs to be concerted and systemic reform . We do not know how many people are missing out on the help they so desperately need or how effective current mental health

Humankind sets out harm reduction minimum standards

A NEW SET OF MINIMUM STANDARDS for needle and syringe provision has been launched by Humankind . The standards support compliance with existing regulation and national guidance , and are designed to ‘ ensure full and equitable reach of comprehensive harm reduction services to all who use substances ’ and to tackle stigma .
The standards cover issues like accessibility , confidentiality , safety and pathways to other services , and are part of a number of harm reduction initiatives that ‘ support Humankind ’ s commitment to improving interactions with service users and helping to save lives ’, the charity states .
‘ I ’ m proud to say that our services already operate at a high standard , but we want to ensure that our needle and syringe provision are among the best in the sector ,’ said Humankind ’ s director of nursing , Stacey Smith . ‘ Sadly since the start of COVID we have seen a decline in the number of people accessing our needle and syringe programmes and we want to change this . These services play a crucial role in reducing drug-related deaths and reinfection rates for hepatitis C , providing the lifesaving drug naloxone , and providing a route into treatment services .’
Needle and syringe provision : minimum standards checklist at humankindcharity . org . uk
support systems are and this needs to change fast . We have a duty of care to those who are in prison and we must do more to live up to it .’ It was ‘ almost impossible to imagine the scale of mental distress in prisons across the country ,’ said chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform , Frances Crook – where ‘ tens of thousands of people have been held in overcrowded conditions or solitary confinement ever since the pandemic began and , in many cases , long before . This report draws attention to the many gaps in treatment in an overburdened and under-resourced system , but we must not lose sight of the fact that prisons can create mental distress themselves . Any drive to improve mental health must begin with a focus on keeping people out of the criminal justice system in the first place .’
Report at https :// publications . parliament . uk / pa / cm5802 / cmselect / cmjust / 72 / 7202 . htm
' These services play a crucial role in reducing drugrelated deaths and reinfection rates for hepatitis C .'
Local News
KICK BACK AND RELAX The winner of this year ’ s recovery games was Sheffield based LERO Kick Back Recovery . The games , which were held virtually , saw teams compete in five challenges that ‘ tested their creativity , endurance and mental agility ’, said Neil Firbank of RDaSH NHS Foundation Trust .
ON THE ROAD Harm reduction campaigner Peter Krykant has passed his overdose prevention van on to Transform , and the vehicle will be touring the country after its first stop in Leeds late last month . ‘ The tour will engage with the public and politicians , and explain how a health-led approach to drugs , including overdose prevention centres , benefits everyone ,’ said Transform ’ s Martin Powell .
CENTRAL SUPPORT Help Me Stop , a dayhab using a model of intensive outpatient programmes , has opened a new facility in central London . With the cost of dayhab ‘ being anywhere between one fifth and one tenth of residential treatment , and with all the benefits of still being able to live at home , work , study and continue to look after children , there are distinct advantages for clients ,’ the organisation states . helpmestop . org . uk