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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 63 (2021) 9, 650 - 657

Review article

Referrals from Flemish prisons to external mental health care

S. Veeckman, D. De Loecker, F. Vander Laenen

Background Although mental health care for prisoners with mental health problems during and after detention improves re-integration and reduces criminal recidivism, prisoners with psychiatric problems seem to have difficulties connecting to regular mental health care after detention. 
Aim To describe referrals from Flemish prisons to psychiatric hospitals or external therapeutic settings in the year 2019. 
Method All prisoners with mental health problems that were referred from a Flemish prison to mental health care in 2019 were studied (n = 577) , using data collected by the Flemish initiative TANDEM. 
Results The vast majority of referrals were prisoners with a substance use disorder. In total, 1 in 5 prisoners with mental health problems directly had access to ambulatory or residential mental health care. 30% of these ultimately did not appear to start with the planned treatment.
Conclusion Continuity of mental health care after detention is recommended and also has a social benefit. Improving cooperation between justice and external mental health care, taking into account the needs of the prisoner, is essential in the development of succesful treatment plans.