Australian Institute of Criminology

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Mental disorders and incarceration history

Crime facts info no. 184

ISSN 1445-7288
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, January 2009

In the 12 months preceding an ABS survey interview, the incidence of any mental disorder in individuals who had at some time been incarcerated was greater than in those who had not (ABS 2008). Of the 385,100 individuals who reported having ever been incarcerated, 41 percent reported having had a mental-health disorder in the 12 months preceding the interview. This is more than double the incidence of such disorders (19%) in individuals who reported that they had never been incarcerated. Individuals who reported incarceration had, in comparison with others, almost five times the incidence of substance-use disorders (23%, compared with 5%), more than three times the incidence of an affective disorder (19%, compared with 6%), and almost twice the incidence of an anxiety disorder in the 12 months prior to interview. Conversely, of the individuals who reported having never been incarcerated, 81 percent reported absence of any mental disorder in the previous 12 months, compared with 59 percent of those who reported having ever been incarcerated.

Persons with mental disordersa, by incarceration historyb (percent)

a: In the previous 12 months. A person may have had more than one class of mental disorder

b: In a jail, prison or correctional facility

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2008. National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: summary of results, 2007. ABS cat. no. 4326.0. Canberra: ABS.