Mental Health and Parole

Mental Illness almost twice as likely for women on probation or parole

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Those who have been released from prison are often arrested again. A better understanding of mental health issues for those on probation or parole could create better rehabilitation programs and reduce prison returns.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a report indicating that women on probation or parole are almost twice as likely to experience mental illness as those who are not.

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“This report highlights the very real need for providing better behavioral healthcare for women emerging from the criminal justice system,” says Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., SAMHSA Administrator.

“Providing these services not only meets a vital public health need, but is a very sound investment since it can prevent many at-risk women from returning to the criminal justice system.”

The report was based on data from SAMHSA’s 2008-2010 national survey on drug use and health - an annually conducted survey with approximately 67,500 participants.

The researchers found that women aged 18-49 on probation had a 49.4 percent chance of experiencing mental illness. Women on parole had a 54.2 percent chance. Those women who had never been on probation or parole had only a 27.5 percent chance.

Additionally, seriously mental illness (defined as substantially limiting life activities) was two to three times more likely for women on probation or parole than those not on either. Women on probation had a 21.5 percent chance of experiencing serious mental illness. Those on parole had a 28.5 percent chance, and those who had never been on probation or parole had a 7.8 percent chance.

However, the researchers are hopeful that shedding light on the link between mental health and the criminal justice system will bring about positive change. Improvement may be possible through an increased understanding of rehabilitation.

“Since women play a vital role in families, schools, business, and government, the recovery of women to productive lives can have an enormous positive impact on America’s communities,” adds Hyde.

The report was released by SAMHSA on March 6th, 2012. All study data should be considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 28, 2012
Last Updated:
April 1, 2012