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Broken Chains: Mental Health

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“They only thing we can do for your mental health is give you the phone number of a service to call once you’re released.”  

With prisons overcrowded with people suffering from mental health issues, many would assume there would be adequate therapy available. But not only are people denied the treatment that could help stop the cycle or re-offending, the isolation and restrictions in the prison system further exacerbate existing mental health conditions. So how do the incarcerated navigate a system that seems engineered to stop them from getting better? Join former incarcerated persons Damien Linnane and Jacob Little as they talk about the lack of mental health treatment in prison. 


See Damien's exhibition with Newcastle libraries.  Broken Chains Newcastle Libraries.  

Read more about intergenerational incarceration.  

"Boys as young as 13 years of age are being sexually abused by prison guards under the guise of strip searches while trapped in some of Australia’s most well-known juvenile justice centres. This is not a historical issue, like many would like to believe." Lau, Michael (25 May 2021). "Strip searches used to disguise sickening sexual abuse of young offenders"Lawyers Weekly. 

Help for survivors of institutional child abuse.  

Read more about reducing reoffending: 

o   Doyle, C., Gardner, K., & Wells, K. (2021). The Importance of Incorporating Lived Experience in Efforts to Reduce Australian Reincarceration Rates. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy.  

o   Day, Andrew (2020) At a crossroads? Offender rehabilitation in Australian Prisons. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law.   

o   Bushnell, Andrew.( 2019) Cutting Costs and Reducing Reoffending redesigning private prison contract for producing better results. Institute of Public Affairs.  

Learn more about the VLAD laws:  

"Bikies who walk away from outlaw motorcycle gangs can face large financial losses, intimidation and violence as a result of abandoning their commitment to a club." Hunter, Fergus (25 May 2021). "Bikies face $10,000 exit fees, threats and loss of assets for leaving clubs"The Sydney Morning Herald. 

Listen to how mental health issues can become a pathway to prison. "Mental health issues 'a train to jail' for Indigenous Australian"ABC News YouTube channel. 2 November 2015. 

Learn more about the Official Visitor Program. "Official Visitor Program"NSW Government. Retrieved 19 August 2021. 

"[An inmate had] been in the [prison's] medical unit for two weeks in absolute agony, begging for treatment. All they'd done for him was prescribe Panadol and Nurofen" ... "Currently, when an individual is incarcerated, it’s incredibly difficult to get access to adequate healthcare." Gregoire, Paul (20 May 2021). "Inmates Continue to Be Denied Medicare"Sydney Criminal Lawyers. 

"Despite prisoners having some of the highest rates of mental illness of any population group, there is increasing evidence that prisons do not have the resources to address the extent of need." ... "Unlike Medicare-subsidised schemes in the community, most prisoners have limited access to ongoing [treatment]." Plueckhahn, Tessa M; Kinner, Stuart A.; Butler, Tony G (2015). "Are some more equal than others? Challenging the basis for prisoners' exclusion from Medicare" (PDF). Medical Journal of Australia. 

"Personal phone calls in prison are limited to six minutes and must be paid for by the inmate. Collect calls are not allowed." Frequently Asked Questions Corrective Services NSW. (9 November 2020) Retrieved 16 August 2021.  

Read about toxic masculinity in relation to mental health in prisons.   

  • Kupers, Terry  A. (2019) Toxic Masculinity in and outside of Prison. Psychology today  
  • Kupers T. A. (2005) Toxic masculinity as a barrier to mental health treatment in prison. Journal of Clinical Psychology.  

Read more about how to look after your mental health in prison (2021How to look after your mental health in prison. Mental Health Foundation 

Read about the positive mental health benefits of journaling. "Journaling for Mental Health"University of Rochester Medical Centre. Retrieved 19 August 2021. 

Read more about the journal Damien edits and distributes to prisons. "Paper Chained - A journal of expression from beyond bars" 

Learn more about Jacob's organisation for victims. "About Time For Justice" 

Listen to Jacob's podcast. "Survivor Stories"Apple Podcasts. 

Find out more about how you, and anyone else outside prison, can access the Mental Health Treatment Plan. "Mental Health Treatment Plan"Health Direct. Retrieved 19 August 2021. 

Check out more music by Louisa Magrics. "LXM music" 

Views expressed disclaimer: 

The views, thoughts, opinions expressed throughout this series are solely attributed to the host and guests of the program and do not reflect those of the City of Newcastle. 

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