Dietzel, David, Synnott, John and Ioannou, Maria (2017) Mental health in an open prison: preliminary research findings. In: Division of Forensic Psychology British Psychological Society Annual Conference, 13th-15th June 2017, Bristol. (Unpublished)

Objectives: The mental health of open prison inmates is virtually un-researched. This study
aims to fill that gap. The researcher hypothesised that the open prison inmates would
present with significantly fewer mental health problems than is reported in closed prisons.

Design: Mental health data from an open prison sample was collected using a battery of
tests/tools, and then compared to general population and closed prison data available in
the literature. This approach was chosen as to put the mental health of the open prison
inmates in a gradient context.

Methods: The sample (N = 74) was collected from an open prison in Ireland. The test
(administered in individual interviews) were: STAI, GHQ12, Brief Jail Mental Health
Screen, Correctional Mental Health Screen for Men, England Mental Health Screen, and
Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being scale. The tests were chosen based on scoring formats
and their degree of validation in relevant literature. Analysis was conducted using SPSS.

Results: Mental Health tests indicated widespread presence of mental health problems at
rates approximating/exceeding those reported for closed prisons. In contrast, the STAI
and WEMWBS indicated a) anxiety at general population levels, and b) mental well-being
better than general population levels.

Conclusions: An open prison setting is conductive to positive mental health, but this by
itself does not seem to mitigate the high incidence rate of mental health problems that is
found in prisons in general. A follow up-study is in development to investigate the cause.

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email