Mental health in prison: nursing assistance and health protection
The objective of this study was the deepening of the aspects of mental health in prison, which is one of the main urgencies of the penitentiary system. The closure of the OPG and the consequent end of the internment of prisoners who manifested mental health problems, made evident the problem of the lack of psychiatric assistance with the consequent acceptance of the mentally ill in the penitentiary area.
A documentary research was carried out in the international databases of scientific studies (Pubmed, Medline) and numerous articles in nursing journals (Nurse24, Tempo di Nursing, The nurse) were consulted, to identify the skills and responsibilities of the nurse in improve the quality of life, in terms of psycho-physical health, of the patient in the prisons. The research has made use of a brief historical-legislative excursus of the Penitentiary Health to understand the reason for the presence of prisoners carrying mental disorders in a context that is inherently pathogenic, incompatible for them; concept clarified also thanks to an interview with Dr. S. A., Guarantor of prisoners of Lazio.
In addition, another interview was conducted with a former detainee (now president of the ExDON association), Mr. P. I., who made it possible to better understand the conditions of detention. From the analysis of the considered studies we identified: the problems that hinder the improvement of the quality of life and the health promotion of this particular category of patients; the interventions and programs that should be implemented; finally, what appears to be the role of the nurse within the prison context.
The results found do not demonstrate a significant improvement in the prison situation in Italy in recent years, in fact, we are witnessing a reduction in prison staff and an increase in the rate of overcrowding of prisoners, although fortunately we are witnessing a static with regard to rates of suicide in prison.
A different approach to prison by the company and the implementation of new rules on health in the penitentiary sector could help the individual being satisfied, through a therapeutic relationship and an appropriate person-specific nursing process.