Indigenous Australians, Incarceration and Mental Health

The Conversation recently featured a new study that finds that Indigenous Australians who are incarcerated are in dire need of mental health support. Indigenous Australians make up 26 percent of the prison population in Australia, despite the fact that they comprise less than three percent of the general population. Indigenous Australians have an incarceration rate that is 14 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians.  The study by Edward Heffernan and his colleagues was based on interviews with 347 Indigenous men and 72 Indigenous women who were incarcerated in Queensland in 2008. Eighty-six percent of the male participants in the study suffered from a mental disorder as well as three-quarters of the women participants. The women were more likely to suffer from psychotic disorders. The Conversation’s Editor, Justin Norrie, writes that ‘culturally capable mental health services’ is sorely needed and underfunded. The  study finds:

Access to appropriate treatment may help prevent the ‘revolving door’ of incarceration.

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