Mental health, chronic diseases plague nation's prisoners
PRISON inmates are facing a range of mental and physical health issues, with nearly half of all Australian prisoners reporting a history of mental health issues, a new report has revealed.
The Australian Institute of Health Welfare report on prisoner health reveals high rates of chronic and communicable diseases.
Health data on more than 387 prisoners discharged in 2012 was analysed as part of the report, showing 32% had at least one chronic disease, with 24% having asthma and one-fifth testing positive for both hepatitis C and B.
Those rates are higher for inmates across the board than in the general community.
The data also showed high rates of smoking and illegal drug use, with four in five prisoners reporting being a smoker and seven out of 10 using illicit drugs in the 12 months before discharge.
More than a quarter of prisoners were also referred to mental health services while inside and 25% took medication for mental health issues while in custody.
Discharge data also showed progress on mental health issues, with 27% reporting their mental health problems were improved while in prison, and 37% reported better health.