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Well-Being and Mental Health Interventions for Indigenous People in Prison

Introduction to Disproportionate Incarceration Rates

The statistics of the incarceration reveals that more than 2.2 million people serving in the jails and prisons and the majority of the population belong to the minority group. The statistics reveal that 40 per cent of the population is incarcerated belong to the black community and more than one-third of the population in the black community have been incarcerated at one point in their lifetime (Wang et al., 2014). The over-incarceration of the Indigenous population and injustice in the services increase the chances of poor health outcome leading to an increase in the rate of mortality in the prisons. The incarceration not only deteriorates the physical health but it also increases the risk for psychological distress that lead to the poor mental wellbeing of the population (Shepherd et al., 2020). The literature review is considered to be one of the rich forms of the study as it uses the different articles to identify the gap in the study that helps to address the issue (Pautasso, 2013). The study is going to conduct the literature review to understand the impact of the disproportionate incarceration rates over the health status of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Literature Review of Disproportionate Incarceration Rates

According to Kendall et al. (2020), the drastic impact of the colonization has negatively framed the situation for the Indigenous population by increasing the disparity in every section. The article also discussed that they have faced all the negative behavioural aspect like racism, discrimination, poor health services delivery and increase the risk of imprisonment. The researcher added that issue with the increasing incarceration rate is due to the lack of justice for the Indigenous population that lead to increased imprisonment duration. The article enlightens that indigenous population face restricts access to the health services, decrease attention to their health issue and social inequity when compared to the non-Indigenous population. The study also discussed the increase rate of imprisonment and inequality in the services increase the risk for the psychological issue in the prison that includes depression, anxiety, social isolation, unresolved trauma. The scientist also added that negative experiences of the population of the Indigenous community especially women in imprisonment lead to the poor health status with the inequity of the health care issue addressing services.

Moreover, the article presented by Shepherd et al. (2016) discussed that there has been a great disparity of the resources provided to the Indigenous population compared to the non-Indigenous population. The study discussed the imprisoned Indigenous population perspective to understand the impact of the lack of resources over their lifetime. The findings reveal that the disparity in the resources increases the unhappy feeling of the individual, elevated risk for mental disorders, decreased emotional wellbeing. The article added that unmet physical health issue needs to increase the risk for the poor health condition or increase the risk for the mortality. The increased incarceration rate leads to the elevated rate of the depressive episodes, anxiety issue and post-traumatic disorder that lead to lifetime mental issue. The researcher concluded that lack of cultural safe practise during the incarceration also increase the complication as it increases the risk for the unaddressed need which negatively impact the Indigenous population 

The study presented by Walsh & Counter, (2019) discussed that the increase rate of the incarceration of the Indigenous population also reflects the irrelevant behaviour of officers that lead to death during the custody. The researcher also added that increased violence and irrational behaviour increase the rate of the mental or physical issue which affect the individual health wellbeing lifetime. The researcher added that the unaddressed medical need of the Indigenous population in the prison leads to the serious medical condition that increases the morality or morbidity rate of the individual. The study presented that poor environmental conditions of the cell where the Indigenous population reside also increase the chances of the infection that can directly deteriorate the health of the patient. The researcher also added that there has been increased incidence of the mental health issue in the Indigenous population due to the discriminative behaviour of the officers which has directly increased the scarcity of the right health care resources. The rate of the incarceration of the Indigenous women also discussed in the article that reveals that they have also increased and they also faced the irrational behaviours of the authority due to their minority group status.

One the other had study presented by Pettit et al. (2019) added that the irrelevant incarceration is negative behaviour toward the Indigenous community as sometimes they are imprisoned without any actual issue. The researcher also added that this incarceration leads to the isolation of the community and negative imaging which already act as a stressor for the individual that is increased by the racial behaviour faced during the incarceration period. The article put forward that Indigenous population are considered to be minority population also when it comes to the health care status thus require right health care facility that is lack due to the discrimination of holistic health care services delivery during the incarceration.

The study presented by Perdacher et al., (2019) discussed that due to the discrimination and less power to the Indigenous community population the population overrepresented in the prison belonging to the Indigenous community. The researcher added that the indigenous population are not provided by the cultural safe practice that can help to improve the mental status with overall wellbeing to improve lifestyle. The study also added that indigenous population receive less secure environment that increases their vulnerability to acquire different health deteriorating condition which is not addressed by the right health care services. The researcher also added that different services that are provided to the indigenous population during the incarceration don’t address the cultural and emotional aspect of the population which increase the risk for the behavioural issue in the population.

 The findings are supported by Sullivan et al. (2019) by adding that incarceration has negatively impacted the population due to the lack of resources and poor behaviour. The incarceration increases the rate of mortality and morbidity that lead to lifetime complication. Indigenous mothers have also faced increased incarceration rate that leads to the lifetime trauma due to the physical or sexual abuse they experienced during the incarceration. The article also added that the incarceration indigenous mothers are highly marginalised and there was a lack of distribution of the resources for the pregnant women also that directly deteriorated the health of the new-born baby. The irrational behaviour of the higher authority toward the Aboriginal women leads to serious mental complication and increased stressor which has increased the risk for the mental disorder in the Indigenous female population. The overall poor mental and physical health was observed in the Indigenous mother during the incarceration period due to the discriminative behaviour.

Conclusion on Disproportionate Incarceration Rates

The essay can be concluded by adding that the indigenous population has been facing issue after the colonization and there has been an increased Incarceration rate in the Indigenous community. The negative behaviour and cultural unsafe care have been negatively influenced the Indigenous population to a higher extent leading to serious health-related complications. The overcrowding of the prisons with the Indigenous population increases the irrational behaviour of the officers that negatively impact the indigenous community. The disproportionate incarceration rates lead to the increase mental disorders, physically deteriorated health, distress and poor mental state which lead to lifetime complication for the Indigenous. 

References for Disproportionate Incarceration Rates

Kendall, S., Lighton, S., Sherwood, J., Baldry, E. & Sullivan, E. A. (2020). Incarcerated aboriginal women's experiences of accessing healthcare and the limitations of the 'equal treatment' principle. International Journal for Equity in Health19(48), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-020-1155-3

Pautasso M. (2013). Ten simple rules for writing a literature review. PLoS Computational Biology9(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003149

Perdacher, E., Kavanagh, D. & Sheffield, J. (2019). Well-being and mental health interventions for Indigenous people in prison: Systematic review. BJPsych Open, 5(6), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2019.80 

Pettit, S., Simpson, P., Jones, J., Williams, M., Islam, M. M., Parkinson, A. & Butler, T. (2019). Holistic primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners: Exploring the role of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 43(6), 538–543. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12941 

Shepherd, S. M., Ogloff, J. & Thomas, S. (2016). Are Australian prisons meeting the needs of Indigenous offenders?. Health & Justice4(13), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40352-016-0045-7

Shepherd, S. M., Spivak, B., Ashford, L. J., Williams, I., Trounson, J. & Paradies, Y. (2020). Closing the (incarceration) gap: Assessing the socio-economic and clinical indicators of indigenous males by lifetime incarceration status. BMC Public Health, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-08794-3 

Sullivan, E. A., Kendall, S., Chang, S., Baldry, E., Zeki, R., Gilles, M. & Sherwood, J. (2019). Aboriginal mothers in prison in Australia: a study of social, emotional and physical wellbeing. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.43(3), 241-247. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12892 

Walsh, T. & Counter, A. (2019). Deaths in custody in Australia: A quantitative analysis of coroners’ reports. Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 31(2), 143–163. https://doi.org/10.1080/10345329.2019.1603831 

Wang, E. A., Aminawung, J. A., Wildeman, C., Ross, J. S. & Krumholz, H. M. (2014). High incarceration rates among black men enrolled in clinical studies may compromise ability to identify disparities. Health Affairs (Project Hope)33(5), 848–855. https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2013.1325

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