Engager was a novel intervention for supporting prisoners with common mental health problems to achieve their goals.
University and peer researchers developed a system of care that aimed to help people in prison, leading up to and following their release. We wanted to know how well this package of care was working and whether it could be improved.
Problems to be addressed
Offenders suffer from a range of health problems, both while in prison and after their release. More than half have a mental health problem of some kind. While prison healthcare has improved over the last decade, mental healthcare is minimal except for those with the most severe problems. Additionally, care after leaving prison is particularly lacking for those serving short sentences. Addressing offenders' mental health problems could lead to considerable gains: to the offenders' own health; to the wellbeing of their families and communities; along with wider economic and social benefits due to reductions in reoffending.
The Engager project was a five-year project, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grant for Applied Research (PGfAR), to develop and evaluate a collaborative care intervention for offenders with common mental health problems, near to and after release.
This project was supported by the NIHR ARC South West Peninsula (PenARC).
The project was based at two sites, one in the North West and one in the South West of England.
The aim of the Engager project was to develop a way of organising care for men with common mental health problems, as they approached being released from prison. We proposed that the intervention would act as a bridge between a range of services inside and outside of the prison, which this group did not normally access. An Engager practitioner worked with each person to develop a shared understanding of their individual goals, and worked with them to engage with services that helped them work towards achieving these goals.