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WHO reveals one-third of prisoners in Europe suffer mental health disorders

According to the new report, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), one in three prisoners in Europe suffer from mental health disorders. The overview is based on survey data from 36 countries, where more than 600,000 people are incarcerated. Data showed that the most prevalent condition among people in prison was mental health disorders, affecting 32.8 percent of the prison population.

The WHO Health in Prisons European Database, that is meant to provide comprehensive, consistent and reliable public health data on prison populations and their health needs across WHO European Region Member States, identifies areas that need attention. Monitoring the health of people in prison, it considers the institutions’ health systems, in order to give a broader picture of the health system across the European region. Indeed Dr. Kluge, regional director of the WHO regional office for Europe, argued that: “When prisons are excluded from the general health system, local communities can be the hardest hit”.

The report takes into account several factors that engrave on mental health like overcrowding and a lack of services. An analysis of 2020 data shows that the most common cause of death in prisons was suicide, with a much higher rate than in the wider community.

Carina Ferreira-Borges, WHO regional advisor for alcohol, illicit drugs and prison health, said that “Ministries of health play a critical role in protecting the basic human right to health. This report highlights the value of a health and human rights-focused approach in dealing with offenders, providing important insights into the specific steps that can be taken to improve our systems, for people in prison and for all of society.” So, health ministers are called in to deliver healthcare in prisons across the European region.


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