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Top 16 Mental Health in Prisons Statistics

By Blog

Mental illness is an issue that affects all of society, but it can affect various groups of people more than others. In addition to impacting people differently based on factors such as gender and race, mental illness also disproportionately affects the prison population. Many people in prison have already had experiences of mental health problems before entering the prison system, while others can develop issues during their incarceration.

By exploring mental health in prisons statistics, we can see that the issue is one that cannot be ignored. Not only are there higher rates of mental illness in prisons compared to the general population, but treatment for these illnesses is lacking too.

These mental health in prison facts will give you the chance to explore the issue, find out more about why it’s happening, and understand what might be done to address it.

Top Prison Mental Health Facts & Stats

  • Psychological disorder statistics show that 64% of US inmates have mental health concerns
  • 66% of women in prison report a previous mental health condition 
  • Mental health in prisons stats reveal that prisoners have an increased risk of suicide compared to the general population
  • More than 4,000 US prisoners with mental health problems are in solitary confinement
  • 65% of rural communities do not have access to a psychiatrist
  • Mental health in prison facts reveal that a lack of mental health care causes a rise in violence – in one case raising incidents from 29 to 40 assaults per 5,000 inmates per year

Mental Health in Prisons Statistics 2019

1. The United States has about 25% of the world’s prison population.

Although the entire population of the US represents just 5% of the global population, statistics about prisons show that it has a disproportionately large prison population. About a quarter of people in prison are located in the United States. This is about 2.2 million people who are incarcerated in the US.

One of the facts about US prisons is that the prison population has risen over the past few decades due to a tough stance on crime, with a number of groups disproportionately targeted, including people of color and those suffering from mental health problems. This implies mental health in prisons statistics growth. One in every 100 American adults is incarcerated. This is five times higher per capita than other Western nations or democracies.

2. 64% of US jail inmates report mental health concerns, according to mental health statistics in US prisons.

Mental illness in prison statistics show that 54% of inmates in state prisons report mental health concerns. Meanwhile, 64% of jail inmates and 45% of federal prisoners also say that they experience mental health issues.

3. Black and Hispanic inmates are overrepresented in mental health and incarceration statistics.

While only around 13% of the population in the US is black, around 40% of people incarcerated are black. Demographics of United States prisons also show that Hispanic people are also overrepresented in prisons and jails, with 20% of the prison population made up of Hispanic people, compared to about 17% of the general population. 

People of color are also more likely to experience mental health issues, which can increase their likelihood of ending up in the prison system, mental health in prisons statistics report.

4. 10-25% of the US prison population suffers from a serious mental illness.

The prevalence of schizoaffective disorder and other serious mental illnesses is between 10-25% in the US prison system. This compares to around 5% in the general population.

5. About 12% of prisoners worldwide have been diagnosed with depression.

Data collected from 24 countries and over 30,000 prisoners showed that around 12% had received a diagnosis of depression. In addition to this, prisoners with mental illness statistics demonstrate that about 4% have a diagnosis of psychosis. In the general population, these numbers are about 4% and 1%, showing that the percentage of mentally ill in prison is higher.

6. 66% of women in prison in the US report a previous mental health condition.

The mental health treatment in women’s prisons statistics reveal that women have an increased risk of mental health problems. Mental illness demographics reveal that 66% of women incarcerated in the US have pre-existing mental health problems, while in the UK almost half have anxiety and depression, 25% report psychosis, and the majority of female prisoners have substance abuse issues, which is one of the worrying mental health in prisons facts

Undiagnosed mental illness statistics show that many people with undiagnosed illnesses cover it up with substance abuse.

7. Prisoners have an increased risk of suicide.

According to statistics from 24 countries, men in prison have a threefold increased risk of suicide. The inmate death statistics also reveal the women are nine times more likely to be at risk of suicide while in prison.

8. Almost half of the people executed in the US between 2000-2015 had a mental illness or substance abuse issue.

Mental health and incarceration statistics also reveal that nearly 50% of the people executed for their crimes in the US between 2000-2015 suffered from a mental health disorder and/or a substance abuse problem.

9. 31% of state prisoners report having received mental health treatment in the past.

Reports from the Bureau of Justice Statistics on mental health treatment in state prisons show that almost one-third of prisoners in state prisons report having received mental health treatment in the past. A third of state prisoners who had mental health problems received treatment since their admission into the prison system, according to prisoners with mental health statistics.

10. 83% of jail inmates with a mental illness did not have access to necessary treatment.

Statistics on mental illness in the criminal justice system suggest that the majority of people in jail with mental health problems don’t receive the help that they need. Additionally, many do not receive treatment once they are released, leading to homelessness and often re-arrest, according to mental health in prisons facts.

11. One in 12 male inmates with a mental illness diagnosis reports sexual victimization.

A closer look at mental disorder stats from a 2007 study reveals that men in prison with a mental health diagnosis are more likely to be victims of sexual assault. Mental health in prisons statistics reveal that one in 12 men report the problem, compared to one in 33 male prisoners without a mental health diagnosis.

12. Prisoners with mental illnesses are more likely to be hurt in fights.

Mental illness crime statistics from the Department of Justice showed that 20% of inmates with a mental illness were injured in jailhouse fights, compared to 10% of inmates without mental illness.

13. According to solitary confinement statistics for 2018, more than 4,000 prisoners with serious mental illnesses are held in solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement has long been a controversial issue tied to mental health. According to mental illness in prisons statistics for 2018, over 4,000 prisoners in solitary confinement in the US have serious mental health problems.

14. More than 30% of inmates in California state prisons receive care for serious mental health disorders.

Local numbers for inmates with mental health problems vary by state. While over 30% receive care for serious mental illnesses in California, 21% of New York inmates and 20% of Texas inmates have been identified as needing care. The prevalence of serious mental illness among jail inmates and the care they receive can depend on location.

15. Mental health staff in prisons statistics for 2018 show that retaining mental health professionals is difficult

There is a lack of provisions for treating mental illness in prisons, particularly in rural areas. Statistics on mental health resources in prisons show that about half of rural communities in the United States don’t have access to a psychologist and 65% don’t have access to a psychiatrist.

16. Lack of mental healthcare causes rises in prison violence.

Statistics on mental health services in prisons show the importance of treatment. In one prison, the Hazelton penitentiary, a drop in mental health care saw the average monthly assaults rise from 29 per 5,000 inmates to 40 within a year.

mental health in prisons statistics - prison

Conclusion

Mental health is an issue that needs to be addressed in prisons both in the US and around the world. Mental health in prisons statistics reveal some concerning figures about the rates of mental illness in prisons, as well as the treatment that prisoners have access to.

The US has a particularly tough problem to tackle, both in relation to mental health in prisons and prison numbers in general.

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