According to a new study at Simon Fraser University, people living in British Columbia prisons are suffering from mental health and substance use problems and have increased significantly over the last decade.
A study from the Health Sciences Department was published last week In the journal Psychiatric services.. In it, researchers found that people suffering from both mental health and substance use issues accounted for 32% of British Columbia’s prison system in 2017. It increased from 15% in 2009.
The epidemic of disability in prison really gives us a mirror of what’s happening and what’s not happening within the healthcare community, says study author Amanda Butler.
“It’s important to note that more than half of the people who go to state prisons are less than a week and the majority are less than a month, as the length of stay in our sample was only 12 days. “Butler said.
“During that time, we saw an increase in precarious employment, an increase in homelessness, as well as changes in the drug market and increased drug toxicity in drug supply.”
The report found that three in four people in British Columbia’s prison population had mental health or substance use problems. Methamphetamine use increased from 6% to 29% and heroin use increased from 11% to 26%.
The report was generated using data from BC Corrections’ screening evaluation tools. According to Butler, all adults admitted to British Columbia prisons undergo a screening process that identifies their health needs, substance use needs, social background, and more.
Hope for improvement
One of the reasons for the data loss in 2017 was that in October 2017, the responsibility for providing medical services in prisons was transferred from BC corrections to the state medical services authorities.
“In fact, in the last few years since 2017, the continuity of care within the prison system and access to quality services has actually improved, improving the transition when people are released from prison. I hope that, “she said. ..
But Butler says more needs to be done to address the underlying problem.
“We really really really need to invest in our community-based services. Currently, most evidence-based services are not affordable in the areas of mental health and substance use, but with state insurance. It’s not publicly covered, “she said.
“People are sometimes forced to go to jail before taking care of them.”
7:17The number of British Columbia prisoners suffering from mental health and substance use issues has increased significantly
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