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J Indian Med Assoc. 2009 Jan;107(1):14-6.

Persons with major psychiatric illness in prisons--a three years study.

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SEVAC Mental Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre, Kolkata 700063.


A research project entitled 'operation oasis' was implemented in West Bengal prisons by SEVAC, supported by the National Human Rights Commission of India for identification of the persons suffering from major psychiatric illnesses (ie, schizophrenia, psychosis not otherwise specified, mood disorder not otherwise specified) in prisons, making arrangements for their psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation and assessing the changes in them after intervention. Dum Dum Central Jail, Presidency Jail (female section), and Berhampore Central Jail were selected as the project fields. The prison inmates were screened through clinical examination and mental state examination. Among them who were found suffering from mental illness were brought under psychiatric and psychological treatment, rehabilitation and restoration. Their sociodemographical data were also collected on the basis of a structured information schedule developed by the SEVAC team. The patients were followed-up for three consecutive years (2001 to 2004). The global assessment of functioning scores of the patients recorded at the time of initiation and completion of project were compared. During the project implementation period, 3871 prison inmates (male 3527 + female 344) were screened and 10% (n = 401) were identified as suffering from major psychiatric illnesses, of which 64% (n = 258) were housed in the prisons for minor offences/stray cases and 90% (n = 363) were undertrials. The findings concluded with a global assessment of functioning score improvement with a statistical significance of p < 0.01 level (Z = 5.06) for the patients. This study shows that a qualitative change took place in the life situations of the mentally ill people who were brought under the purview of psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation.

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