Breaking down barriers to mental healthcare access in prison: a qualitative interview study with incarcerated males in Norway

Av: Line Elisabeth Solbakken, Svein Bergvik og Rolf Wynn
Publisert i: BMC Psychiatry 17. april 2024



Mental health problems are highly prevalent in prison populations. Incarcerated persons generally come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are living under extraordinary conditions while in prison. Their healthcare needs are complex compared to the general population. Studies have found that incarcerated individuals are reluctant to seek help and that they experience challenges in accessing mental healthcare services. To some extent, seeking treatment depends on the degree of fit between potential users and health services, and actual use might be a better indication of accessibility than the fact that services are available. This study aimed to explore individual and systemic facilitators and barriers to accessing mental healthcare in a prison context.


Facilitating access to mental health services is crucial to accommodate the mental health needs of those incarcerated. This study provides insights into the complex interplay of individual, social and systemic factors that may contribute to the utilization of mental health care among incarcerated persons. We suggest that correctional and healthcare systems review their practices to facilitate access to healthcare for people in prison.