First intellectual output in MenACE – Mental Health, Aging and Palliative Care in Prisons.
MenACE is an ERASMUS + project that aims to increase the response to mental health disorders within prisons as well as the quality of palliative and life care services provided by enhancing the competences of management and frontline staff to address prisoners’ mental health needs and the special needs of older prisoners.
The partnership involves five countries and is comprised by Universities (BSAFE LAB – Law Enforcement, Justice and Public Safety Lab of University of Beira Interior, Portugal), University Hospitals (Helse Bergen Haukeland University, Norway), private companies (IPS_Innovative Prison Systems, Portugal), National Prison Administrations of Portugal, Romania and Belgium, health care providers (Casa Sperantei, Romania) and the European Organisation of Prison and Correctional Services (EUROPRIS).
As part of its goals, in the first intellectual output, a literature review was made in the fields of mental health, ageism and palliative care, with a clear focus on these realities in the prison systems. Particularly, a questionnaire was developed to collect information in the partner countries. Preliminary results from the literature review show that depression and anxiety disorders are much more prevalent in prison comparing to community samples. Data collected in partner countries show that serious mental health problems affect inmates with high suicide rates when compared with the community settings. The number of older inmates, that is, inmates with more than 50 years, is increasing in all the surveyed countries, for instance in Portugal, where the percentage of older inmates already reached 18% of the total prison population in 2015. Regarding the provisioning of palliative care, it is often available for inmates, but outside prisons. Changes in the regime are also a reality when inmates face terminal illnesses. The results of the theoretical work and the ones from the empirical collection of data are discussed and policy implications are drawn for practitioners. One of the implications that are highlighted by this work is the importance of training prison staff, at different levels, to be prepared to cope with this difficult and emerging realities in prisons.
The report will be available soon at the project website. Visit www.menace-project.org