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An Estimated 15 to 20 Percent of Prisoners Need Mental Health Services

An estimated 15 to 20 percent of prisoners need mental health services. Unfortunately many don’t get them.

Dec. 8, 2011 - PRLog -- An estimated 15 to 20 percent of prisoners need mental health services.  Unfortunately many don’t get them.  In her book Beyond the Walls: The World of the Psychotic Patient, Dr. Joan Eccleston says, “It is significantly more cost effective to treat and rehabilitate a mentally ill offender than it is to spend $50,000 yearly to incarcerate one.

Violence by the mentally ill is quite rare.  But, Dr. Eccleston continued, “Society believes that once you lock a criminal up, the worries are over.  They forget that most people who are incarcerated are eventually released again.  And they ignore the many injuries and even deaths suffered by those who work in the prison system.”

And she added, “It is especially frustrating to watch the growing fascination with movies and books about serial killers.  Publicity of this nature not only encourages copycats.  It also give the criminally insane a bad reputation.  Contrary to popular opinion, violence by the mentally ill is quite rare, and is usually preceded by warnings signs of strange behavior or thoughts.”

Dr. Eccleston has spent much of her forty years of clinical practice working with seriously mentally ill patients in a variety of Department of Corrections facilities, including several state prisons and the Hospital for the Criminally Insane.  She had no great attraction to criminology or gory assaults or an all-male practice.  Working in a prison setting, she says, was “really just an inconvenience I had to go through to have access to numerous psychotically disturbed individuals, many of whom I hoped I could help.  It was the most gratifying work I’ve ever done.”

Dr. Eccleston wrote Beyond the Walls to educate lay people about psychosis so they can move beyond the stigma and seek appropriate treatment.  Professionals working with the mentally ill will find valuable information about the many changes in treatment programs over the past 20 years.  To get your copy go to www.beyondthewallsbook.com.

About Dr. Joan Eccleston:
Joan Eccleston, M.D., has spent much of her forty years of clinical practice working with seriously mentally ill patients in public mental health facilities including state hospitals, community mental health center day-hospital programs and outpatient departments.  Her employment in Department of Corrections facilities includes several state prisons as well as at the Hospital for the Criminally Insane.  She has served as a consultant to group homes for both the mentally ill and for the developmentally disabled, and she has testified in court well over three hundred times.

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