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Over 3 in 10 prison entrants (31%) reported having been told that they have a mental health disorder. Further, a total of 16% of prison entrants reported currently being on medication for a mental health disorder: this represents just under half (46%) of those who reported ever having been told they have a mental illness.
Reporting a history of mental health problems was more common among female (41%) than male entrants (30%). In contrast, the same proportions of male and female entrants (16%) were currently on medication for mental health disorders. This may suggest that males were more likely than females to opt for medication for mental health disorders, or that males experience psychological disorders that professionals are more likely to medicate.
Non-Indigenous prison entrants (38%) were more likely than Indigenous prison entrants (23%) to have ever been told that they have a mental health disorder. They were also more likely to be currently taking medication for a mental health condition and be currently experiencing high and very high levels of psychological distress (Figure 1).
Note: Excludes New South Wales and Victoria who did not participate in the 2010 Census.
Source: Entrant form, National Prisoner Health Census 2010.
Notes1. Excludes New South Wales and Victoria who did not participate in the 2010 Census. 2. Levels of distress as indicated by scores on the K10: low (10–15), moderate (16–21), high (22–29) and very high (30–50).3. There were 30 entrants with unknown or an invalid level of distress score.
Indigenous prison entrants reported levels of psychological distress which were similar to or lower than those in the general Indigenous population. Indigenous prison entrants aged 18–34 years were more likely to experience low/moderate psychological distress compared with the general Indigenous population (79–81% and 62–69%, respectively) (Figure 3).
Similar levels of psychological distress were experienced by Indigenous prison entrants and the general Indigenous population aged 35–44 years, in both the low/moderate (67%) and high/very high categories (30–31%) (Figure 3).
Note: Excludes New South Wales and Victoria who did not participate in the 2010 Census
Sources: Entrant form, National Prisoner Health Census 2010; AIHW analysis of 2008 NATSISS
See Chapter 3 of The health of Australia's prisoners.