When Bryony was held in jail, she says self-harm was “rife”.
The then 27-year-old – who had no legal report – was arrested when she was having delusions she was being poisoned.
After her mom’s demise from pancreatic most cancers, Bryony (not her actual identify) began to develop psychological well being issues whereas she was a college scholar.
They culminated in a psychosis the place she believed there was a tapeworm in her mind which was killing her. Bryony thought a neighborhood takeaway employee had poisoned her meals with tapeworm eggs.
In the midst of her psychosis in 2017, she threatened to kill the person if he did not admit to drugging her and put a match by means of the door of the takeaway.
Bryony was arrested for malicious communication and tried arson and positioned on remand within the mental-health wing of HMP Styal in Cheshire.
Warning: This story comprises references to self-harm
Once in jail, Bryony stated she was “so depressed” that she self-harmed for the first-time.
“I couldn’t see any other option,” she stated.
“It was basically a way to cope with my surroundings.
“When you are psychotic and depressed, being locked away in a cell is among the worst issues you are able to do to somebody.”
Prisoner ‘tried to disembowel himself’
The extent to which mentally unwell prisoners are going to hurt themselves has been revealed in a new report seen exclusively by Sky News.
And there are concerns the problem is being worsened by people with mental health problems being held in prisons for too long before they are transferred to psychiatric hospitals.
The report, from chief inspector of prisons Charlie Taylor, says some mentally unwell prisoners are “so pushed to harming themselves they’ve… eliminated enamel or maimed themselves to the purpose of exposing their very own intestines, incessantly inflicting life-changing accidents”.
Mr Taylor told Sky News: “We got here throughout a case the place a prisoner was, in impact, trying to disembowel himself.”
Despite these shocking examples, some prisoners are waiting more than a year to be transferred to psychiatric hospitals.
NHS steering says the time between the identification of the necessity for hospital admission and the switch to hospital ought to take not more than 28 days. For these with an pressing want, the switch ought to happen sooner.
Mr Taylor stated this isn’t occurring in 85% of circumstances – and the typical wait time is nearly three months.
Prison officers obtain restricted coaching in psychological well being and threat being injured of their interactions with unwell prisoners.
Therefore, many unwell prisoners who’re harmful or tough to handle find yourself in solitary confinement for lengthy durations, worsening their situation.
Latest figures present there was a 17% enhance within the price of self-harm incidents amongst prisoners in England and Wales within the 12 months to June 2023 – with a report stage for feminine inmates.
The Ministry of Justice stated there have been “notable differences in self-harm trends by gender” – as the speed in feminine prisons elevated “considerably by 63% to a new peak (6,213 incidents per 1,000 prisoners)”, in comparison with an increase of three% in male prisons (555 incidents per 1,000 prisoners).
‘She was struggling, actually struggling’
Sarah Reed had schizophrenia and was despatched to HMP Holloway in 2015.
She was despatched to the jail for psychiatric reviews to be obtained to substantiate whether or not she was match to face trial for an alleged assault, which occurred whereas she was sectioned as a affected person at a psychiatric hospital.
In jail, Sarah was taken off her antipsychotic medicine and positioned in segregation, the place her well being quickly declined.
Sarah’s mom Marilyn Reed advised Sky News: “She kept saying ‘mum, I need my meds, I can’t sleep’. She also had these two black eyes. She was suffering, really suffering.
“The last item she stated to me was ‘get me out of right here’.”
On 11 January 2016, Sarah was found unresponsive in her cell.
An inquest jury concluded unacceptable delays in psychiatric assessment and failures in care contributed to her death.
A court heard how she spent her final days in a filthy cell, kept in virtual isolation with no visits or telephone calls to family.
The prison closed in July 2016.
According to the chief inspector for prisons, there are two causes for the lengthy delays in transferring acutely mentally unwell prisoners to psychological well being amenities: paperwork and the dearth of beds in psychiatric amenities.
Latest NHS figures present 90.5% of in a single day beds reserved for psychological sickness are occupied.
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While there are lengthy delays in transferring prisoners to hospital, Mr Taylor says he has considerations about the way in which prisons are used “as an alternative to a hospital bed”.
Prisons proceed for use “as a place of safety”, which suggests individuals will be remanded in custody throughout a psychological well being disaster solely as a result of there are not any obtainable hospital locations.
Mr Taylor described listening to a couple of girl who had intentionally jumped in entrance of site visitors 4 occasions within the hope that it might finish her life. The girl was arrested for a public order offence and remanded in jail.
The draft of the Mental Health Bill sought to take away the usage of jail as a spot of security and to reform the Bail Act to forestall courts from remanding defendants for their very own safety, solely for psychological well being causes.
The invoice additionally proposed a statutory time restrict of 28 days to finish transfers from prisons to hospital.
However, the invoice was not included within the King’s Speech in November 2023, which means that there will likely be no legislative reform of the Mental Health Act.
Prison ‘made sickness 10 occasions worse’
Bryony spent six months in jail earlier than showing in courtroom the place she was given a hospital order and transferred to a psychological well being facility.
There she was given a analysis of bipolar dysfunction and commenced remedy.
“I started to get better straight away,” she stated.
“I don’t know if getting arrested and getting sent to prison was the right response.
“I feel maybe it might need been extra helpful if I’d have been taken straight to hospital as an alternative of jail.
“I’ve never seen people so ill before. And prison just made that illness 10 times worse.”
A authorities spokesperson stated: “Offenders are entitled to access mental health support in prison, where they are also helped to get off drugs and into rehabilitation.
“NHS England is investing in post-custody care to assist jail leavers entry their community-based well being companies – serving to to scale back reoffending, lower crime and shield the general public.”
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can name Samaritans for assistance on 116 123 or electronic mail [email protected] within the UK. In the US, name the Samaritans department in your space or 1 (800) 273-TALK