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“A Call to Action”-Mental Illness and Self-Injurious Behavior Occuring In Jails & Prisons

Author: HAYDEN P. SMITH, ALICIA H. SITREN and SARAH KING
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 41 No. 4

Prisons and jails have become a default mental health system for a significant portion of society. The high prevalence and complexity of mental illness in the correctional system is discussed with reference to a specific issue, inmate self-injury. Self-injurious behaviors are now ubiquitous in correctional institutions and a challenge for administrators. The etiology, prevalence and manifestation of self-injurious behaviors occurring in incarcerated settings is presented. This discussion is linked to a broader “Call to Action” for administrators that includes setting programmatic goals within the context of a mental health crisis (and few resources), consuming empirical research, developing programs for inmates, and addressing staff stress and resilience when working with inmates who are mentally ill.

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