Imprisonment harms mental health. Overcrowding, various forms of violence, enforced solitude, lack of privacy, lack of meaningful activity, isolation from social networks, insecurity about future prospects (work, relationships, etc.), and inadequate health services, especially mental health services, harm mental health. The prevalence of poor mental health among prisoners is considerably higher than in the community, and studies worldwide have shown that suicide rates in prisons are up to 10 times higher than those in the general population. Nevertheless, prisoners are also less likely to have their mental health needs recognized and to receive psychiatric help or treatment. They are most susceptible during the remand period.
Despite the size of the problem, prison services have had little guidance on mental health, including health promotion and the reduction of the harm that may arise from imprisonment. In addition, prison staff dealing with disturbed or otherwise difficult prisoners may experience workplace-induced stress, with implications for their mental and physical well-being and the good management of prisons.