Free from suffering in silence.
Free to get the care I need.
In a mental health crisis, people are more likely to encounter police than get medical help. As a result, 2 million people with mental illness are booked into jails each year.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Did you know…
71% of women in North Carolina prisons have substance use issues,
53% have mental health issues,
And 82.9% of all women in NC prisons struggle with either or both.
In each of these categories, women’s rates are higher than their male counterparts’. 
For nearly a century, state psychiatric hospitals were the primary institutions for treating people with mental health problems. In the late 1950s, states began closing these facilities in large numbers with the promise that they would be replaced with a robust network of behavioral health care centers where people could receive the services they needed, while continuing to live in the community—a movement known as deinstitutionalization.
The promise of the community mental health movement fell short of its ambitions… [contributing] to a disproportionate number of underserved people with mental health problems becoming entangled in the criminal justice system and correctional facilities becoming their default treatment providers. While estimates vary, the prevalence of serious mental illnesses is at least two to four times higher among state prisoners than in community populations.
Mental health issues often have roots in the very traumas that lead women to prison – sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and childhood abuse. Additionally, mental health issues are compounded by the trauma that women experience while they are incarcerated.
At IPMW, we believe that chaplains play a vital role in restoring mental health for incarcerated women. Our chaplains are trained to identify mental health needs within pastoral care encounters, enabling them to connect women with psychiatric services within the prison. They provide both one-on-one and group support for women who are seeking treatment but who are also seeking support in between appointments. Finally, they create a culture in which a woman can learn – sometimes for the first time – that her mental health is a valued and honored aspect of her spirituality and a vital aspect of her walk with God.
Outside the prison, we are part of and continue to build networks that include mental health treatment, a vital part of a woman’s reentry plan.
Please click on the link below for more information about this crucial topic.
Indicators of Mental Health Reported by Prisoners and Jail Inmates, by Jennifer Bronson, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Marcus Berzofsky, Dr. P.H., RTI International, June 22, 2017. https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5946
Female Prisoners and Recidivism in North Carolina Research Brief, North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission, April 2010.
The Burden of Mental Illness Behind Bars, by Vera Institute of Justice, 2019.
Jailing People with Mental Illness, NAMI.org, 2019.