June 21, 2024

Unpacking the Link between Mental Health and Incarceration: An Interview with Dr. Wally Campbell

2 min read
Managing mental health in correctional facilities

Dr. Wally Campbell, the Chief Psychologist at the Idaho Department of Correction, has highlighted the link between mental health issues and incarceration. According to him, approximately one-third of inmates come into the system with mental health challenges, but more are diagnosed while in prison. The harsh and stressful environment of prison can exacerbate existing mental health issues or cause situational mental illness.

Since the 1990s, Dr. Campbell has worked in correctional facilities and is well-versed in assessing mental health needs. Upon arrival, inmates undergo a screening by nurses in the reception diagnostic unit to determine any immediate mental health crises. The assessment includes questions about mental health history and current well-being to ensure proper care is provided.

Different levels of classification are assigned to those with mental health struggles to ensure they receive appropriate care. Treatment for mental illness can help reduce the likelihood of reoffending, but resources are limited in addressing the needs of incarcerated individuals.

Dr. Campbell emphasized that while addressing mental health is crucial, it may not solve the underlying criminal behavior of some individuals. The dual challenge of treating mental health and criminal behavior remains a complex issue in correctional facilities.

In conclusion, there is a clear connection between mental health issues and incarceration, and correctional facilities play an important role in identifying and addressing these issues. While resources may be limited, it’s essential that we continue to prioritize addressing mental health concerns for both those who have committed crimes and those who have been impacted by systemic inequality.

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