Irish Penal Reform Trust

Mental Health

Mental illness in the context of prison must be viewed as a health issue requiring an effective and prompt health intervention, including diversion to appropriate treatment services outside prison. However, people with mental health issues continue to enter the prison system due to a lack of access to appropriate mental health services in the community.

This section includes posts on issues relating to mental health in prison and the wider criminal justice system. If you are looking for general health-related information, click here.

IPRT signs open letter to Taoiseach on mental health funding

4th October 2021

IPRT was among the signatories of an open letter, coordinated by Mental Health Reform, calling on the Taoiseach and the Irish Government to prioritise funding for mental health services in the upcoming budget.

RTÉ, Today with Claire Byrne: Central Mental Hospital

20th August 2021

Barry Lenihan reports on capacity issues facing the Central Mental Hospital (CMH), speaking to Prof Harry Kennedy and IPRT’s Molly Joyce.

IPRT presentation to High Level Task Force on mental health and addiction

29th July 2021

IPRT presented our initial observations on the Terms of Reference of the High Level Task Force to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of persons interacting with the criminal justice system on Thursday 29 July.

High levels of self-harm in prisons underscores need for alternative interventions – IPRT

13th April 2021

MEDIA ADVISORY: IPRT response to the third annual Self-Harm Assessment and Data Analysis (SADA) report, which showed an overall decrease in the number of recorded cases of self-harm in prisons in Ireland in 2019, but rising rates among certain cohorts.

Irish Prisons and COVID-19: One Year On

12th April 2021

One year on from the imposition of COVID-19 restrictions, this IPRT briefing outlines what we have learned from the response to the pandemic and the steps that are now required in order to meet human rights obligations and address the effects of COVID-19 on people in prison and their families.

Establishment of High Level Taskforce must be met with staffing, resources and wide consultation – Irish Penal Reform Trust and Mental Health Reform

2nd April 2021

IPRT and Mental Health Reform welcome the joint announcement by the Ministers for Justice and Health, and Ministers of State with responsibility for mental health and the national drugs strategy, of the establishment of a High Level Taskforce to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of persons interacting with the criminal justice system.

Irish Examiner: Covid-19 has ‘compounded’ mental health issues for prisoners

19th March 2021

IPRT comment featured in reporting by the Irish Examiner on parliamentary questions relating to mental health and addiction services in prisons.

Joined-up approach to mental health in the criminal justice system will improve outcomes and reduce reoffending – IPRT

4th March 2021

MEDIA ADVISORY: IPRT welcomes the publication of a new Probation Service research report on the prevalence of mental health problems among persons under probation supervision.

Visiting Committee Annual Reports 2019

18th January 2021

Common issues echoed across various Visiting Committee annual reports for 2019 include: overcrowding, the use and impact of restricted regimes, visiting, the closure of schools/workshops due to staffing levels, and concerning levels of unmet mental health needs across the prison estate.

'Self-harm in Irish Prisons 2018' report published

24th August 2020

The second report from the Irish Prison Service Self-Harm Assessment and Data Analysis (SADA) Project, has been published.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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