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The use of psychiatric services before imprisonment: a survey and case register linkage of sentenced prisoners in Melbourne

  • H. Herrman (a1), J. Mills (a1), G. Doidge (a1), P. McGorry (a1) and B. Singh (a1)...


Information about contact with psychiatric services before imprisonment was obtained for a stratified random sample of sentenced prisoners, who were not receiving prison psychiatric care, in Melbourne's three metropolitan prisons. The sample of 158 men and 31 women was matched with the longitudinal person-linked records of state psychiatric service use in the Victorian Psychiatric Case Register (VPCR). Records of contact with the state services were found for 54 men (34%) and 19 women (61%), including records of in-patient treatment for 25 men (16%) and 15 women (48%). For 64% of individuals with a positive match, the case-note diagnoses were substance use disorders only. Diagnoses of psychotic disorders were recorded for four prisoners, and mood disorders for another six.

In addition, clinicians conducted standardized diagnostic interviews and enquired about treatment and personal history. A further 24 prisoners reported specialist psychiatric treatment outside the state treatment sector.

This study links the findings from an interview survey of psychiatric morbidity in prisoners with the records available in the VPCR, and emphasizes a number of matters important to the public health. The high rates of previous treatment for substance abuse disorders, the apparent pool of prisoners with largely untreated major depression, and the service needs of those with chronic psychotic disorders are discussed.


Corresponding author

1Address for correspondence: Professor Helen Herrman, University of Melbourne, Department of Psychiatry, St Vincent's Hospital, Victoria Parade, Fitzroy, Victoria 3065, Australia.


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The use of psychiatric services before imprisonment: a survey and case register linkage of sentenced prisoners in Melbourne

  • H. Herrman (a1), J. Mills (a1), G. Doidge (a1), P. McGorry (a1) and B. Singh (a1)...


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