Author(s): Butler T, Allnutt S, Kariminia A, Cain D
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To compare the mental health of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal prisoners in New South Wales. METHODS: The sample consisted of a cross-sectional random sample of sentenced prisoners, and a consecutive sample of reception prisoners. The sample was drawn from 29 correctional centres (27 male, two female) across New South Wales. Overall, 1208 men (226 Aboriginal), and 262 women (51 Aboriginal) participated in the study. Mental illness was detected using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI-A) and a number of other screening measures incorporated into the programme. RESULTS: No differences were detected in mental illness between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men, apart from depression, which was lower in the latter group. Aboriginal woman were more likely than non-Aboriginal women to screen positive for symptoms of psychosis in the prior 12 months and have a higher 1 month and 12 month prevalence of affective disorder; they also had higher psychological distress scores. Suicidal thoughts and attempts were the same in both groups. CONCLUSIONS: These findings confirm that the demand for mental health services in prisons is considerable, and that Aboriginal women are one of the most vulnerable groups. Services and programmes providing an alternative to incarceration are needed, as are culturally sensitive approaches to treatment.
This article was published in Aust N Z J Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Socialomics