Prevalence of mental disorders in a prison population in Durban, South Africa

  • S Naidoo
  • DL Mkize
Keywords: Prevalence, Mental disorders, Prison population, South Africa


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of serious mental disorders in a prison population in Durban, South Africa, one of the largest prisons in the Southern hemisphere. Method: 193 prisoners were interviewed using the Mini Neuro-psychiatric Interview, a screening questionnaire and a demographic questionnaire. Results: The study demonstrated that 55.4% of prisoners had an Axis 1 disorder. The commonest disorder being substance and alcohol use disorders ( 42.0%). 23.3% of prisoners were diagnosed with current psychotic, bipolar, depressive and anxiety disorders. 46.1% were diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. The majority of prisoners diagnosed as having an Axis 1 disorder in this study, were neither diagnosed nor treated in prison. Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of mental disorders among prisoners in a prison population in Durban, South Africa. The majority of these prisoners are untreated in prison, related to non detection of the mental disorder. Greater mental health awareness and provision of mental health services focusing on staff training programmes to detect mental illnesses are needed and further research is recommended throughout South Africa.

Keywords: Prevalence; Mental disorders; Prison population; South Africa


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1994-8220