Jailed women suffer mental stress

Issue 

Jailed women suffer mental stress

By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — Women in prison suffer levels of psychiatric problems 150 times greater than women "outside", a survey has found.

More than half the 92 women prisoners surveyed suffered psychiatric illness, including depression and personality disorders.

The 1989 survey was reported by Brisbane psychiatrist Dr William Hurley in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

According to the survey, "some stressful events reported were problems 'on the outside' ... recent separations from children, family and friends; major financial crisis; serious argument with relatives.

"Other stressful events were problems 'on the inside' ... recent serious arguments with other prisoners or prison staff, assault, victimisation, crises in homosexual relationships", Dr Hurley said.

"Women who had been in prison previously had significantly higher distress scores, a finding which adds to the evidence in this study that vulnerability to psychological distress is linked to vulnerability to imprisonment", Dr Hurley concluded.

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