Mental Health Needs Of Black Prisoners Being Ignored

A LONDON charity which works with offenders is to hold a special conference later this year to discuss how to help black and minority ethnic (BME) offenders who are suffering from mental health issues.

Penrose, which runs mental health services across south London and Luton is aiming to train mental health professionals and prison staff to help them better understand some of the cultural factors that affect people in this group and treat them more effectively.


According to a 2010 report from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), BME prisoners make up 2.2 per cent of the country’s population but form 15 per cent of the prison population, a disproportionality that is greater than in the United States.

However research has shown that a significant number of these are likely to have mental health issues of varying degrees and that their needs often go unmet which can lead to them re-offending or being given the kind of medication that can lead to their illness getting worse.

Gill Arukpe, chief executive of Penrose said: “Mental health nurses need to have a different form of training that includes a much wider frame of reference that would include knowledge about people’s cultural backgrounds and this shapes how they articulate themselves.

“We’re often told by our service users that they might not have been that unwell to begin with but what they’ve said or what they’re trying to explain while they are in hospital gets misinterpreted.

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