16th Reintegration Puzzle Conference

Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
1-3 June 2022

Changing Seasons,
Changing Lives

Improving mental health and reducing drug-related harms among people released from prison: Advancing the case for continuity of care

Over a decade ago the World Health Organization issued an urgent call to action to address the high prevalence of mental disorders among people who are incarcerated, globally. However, mental illness and substance use disorders remain substantially overrepresented among people in prison, and this prevalence is increasing rapidly in some jurisdictions. Although improving the mental health of people who experience incarceration is increasingly recognised as a key component of public health, substantial gaps in evidence remain. This critical lack of understanding hinders the capacity of community-based mental healthcare and alcohol and other drug treatment providers to develop and implement targeted, evidence-informed responses to the often complex health needs of people released from prison. Therefore, effective ‘throughcare’ continues to be aspirational in most jurisdictions and contact with the criminal justice system remains a missed public health opportunity. This presentation will summarise a program of research on service use patterns and health outcomes for people with substance use disorders and/or mental illness released from prison generated from several of the largest cohort studies to link routinely collected administrative health and justice data, globally. Implications for policy and practice will be discussed.


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