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News 7 February 2018

An integrated approach to tackling substance misuse and mental health issues in prisons

An integrated approach to tackling substance misuse and mental health problems amongst prisoners could reduce mental health problems in prisons, as well as reducing re-offending, according to research released today by The Forward Trust.

Forward’s research, based on data collected from participants of the organisation’s substance misuse programmes (known as the RAPt programmes) shows that the number of service users reporting symptoms of depression and anxiety fell by 50% and 25% respectively following completion of the programme.

The programme, based on a tailored mixture of support – including 12 Step interventions, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness – resulted in far fewer participants reporting severe symptoms of depression or anxiety following treatment compared to before. After taking part in the programme the proportion experiencing the most severe symptoms dropped by almost a quarter for anxiety (71% – 54%) and over half for depression (57% – 25%).

Forward Chief Executive, Mike Trace said:

“The vast majority of prisoners seen by drug and alcohol services also present with mental health symptoms. Services therefore need to routinely address both issues together. Our research is showing the significant benefits of this integrated approach to tackling mental health symptoms and substance misuse in prisons – the expansion of this approach will help to tackle the rising levels of suicide and self-harm in prisons, as well as reducing the likelihood of released prisoners returning to crime.”

Sign up to read the full research here.