579. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Justice the number of prisoners currently being treated for a mental health conditions; the number who began their sentence known to have a mental health condition; the number who have been assessed as needing psychological help and getting psychological help; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37838/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): All people committed to prison are subject to a comprehensive medical assessment by the Prison Healthcare Team, which includes a mental health assessment. The information provided as part of this process is recorded on the person’s individual medical record on the Prison Healthcare Management System. This information allows for the development of an individual healthcare plan for the prisoner while in custody. Where necessary, the person is referred to a forensic clinician or Prison Service Psychologist or both. Medical and/or psychological treatment is provided as clinically indicated.
Of the current prison population, at the time of committal 506 people (13% of the prison population) indicated that they had previously been treated by the Mental Health Services, had previously deliberately self-harmed or attempted suicide and had previously been prescribed medication indicated for the treatment of depression or psychosis.
In-reach mental health services are provided by the HSE’s National Forensic Mental Health Service, involving the provision of weekly forensic mental health sessions which are led by Consultant Forensic Psychiatrists, supported by Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors, Community Psychiatric Nurses, and Social Workers. The caseload of the NFMHS in reach team includes up to 250 people who are ordinarily in the custody of the Prison Service. These patients are almost entirely made up of people with severe mental illnesses but include those with prominent personality disorder usually with co-morbid less serious mental illness, with the majority having co-morbid substance misuse problems (70%).
The Prison Service Psychology Service take a lead role in relation to mental health assessment for the purposes of groups or individuals talking therapy interventions. They also provide offence related (criminogenic) assessment and intervention (which frequently includes mental health and trauma related factors).
In 2020, approximately 1,400 people were referred to the service. Almost 60% of this cohort were referred specifically due to mental ill health, with the remaining being open referrals where mental ill health is likely to be a component once the triage assessment is complete.
As of 12 July 2021, there are 639 people being assessed or intervened with and 1,171 on the waiting list for assessment or intervention.