Many prisoners live with mental health or cognitive impairments. Half of all adult inmates have been assessed or treated by a doctor or psychiatrist for a mental health problem1. A 2009 survey showed that 87% of young people in custody have at least one psychological disorder. In 2015 the figure was over 83%, with 63% having two or more psychological disorders.
In the 2015 survey, 16% of young people in custody scored as having a potential intellectual disability. In 2009, the figure was 14%, with 32% scoring in the borderline range for intellectual ability. The rates are higher for Indigenous young people in custody.
The very high rate of cognitive impairment among prisoners means that as prisoner numbers increase, so does the demand for mental health and disability services within the correctional system. The number of people within the forensic mental health system also continues to increase.