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Women on probation or parole have greater rates of mental health problems

Heather Rudow April 6, 2012

(Photo:Flickr/Henry__Spencer)

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that women on parole are nearly twice as likely to experience mental illness when compared with other women.

The study revealed that 49.4 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 49 who had been on probation and 54.2 percent who were on parole had experienced some form of mental illness. That percentage for women who were not on probation or parole was 27.5 percent.

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

Additional findings from the study include that the rates of serious mental illness are two- to three-times higher for women who have been on probation or on parole than other women. Among women on probation, the rate of serious mental illness comes in at 21.5 percent; among women on parole, it’s 28.5 percent; and for women in neither of those categories, it’s 7.8 percent. The findings suggest that “women in the criminal justice system with untreated mental health problems have greater difficulty reintegrating into their families and communities and are more likely to re-offend than those without mental health problems.”

Source: SAMHSA

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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