Psychiatric morbidity among prisoners in South India: A cross-sectional study


  • S Shiney Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College, Kannur, Kerala, India
  • Kalathara Francis Yesudas Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College, Kannur, Kerala, India
  • Balachandran Sumesh Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College, Kannur, Kerala, India



Mental health, prisoners, psychiatric morbidity


Introduction: Everyone has a fundamental right to enjoy the best possible level of physical and mental health, irrespective of race or gender. The incarcerated are taken away from their friends and relatives, regardless of their mental state. There is a high prevalence of mental illness among male and female prisoners, as per various studies. The aim of the study is to assess the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity among prisoners without a past history of psychiatric illnesses, to determine the association of socio-demographic factors, and to assess the prevalence of various psychiatric disorders in this population. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on 200 male prisoners by simple random sampling. The assessment was done using a self-prepared socio-demographic proforma and Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Result: The prevalence of any psychiatric morbidity was observed to be 86%, and the most commonly seen morbidity was substance use disorder (81%), followed by adjustment disorders (20%), and 96% had a low risk for suicide. There was almost equal representation of age groups: 74% of prisoners were married or widowed, 90% belonged to rural residences, 75% of the participants had secondary education or below, almost 95% were below poverty line, and 92% were employed previously. Conclusion: In our study, we found that the most common reason for imprisonment was murder and other causes like abkari, family law related, as well as political issues. Almost 12% and 18% reported crime in the family and crime by peers. The most commonly seen morbidity was substance use disorder (81%), followed by adjustment disorders (20%). Around 96% had a low risk for suicide.


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How to Cite

Shiney, S., K. F. Yesudas, and B. Sumesh. “Psychiatric Morbidity Among Prisoners in South India: A Cross-Sectional Study”. Kerala Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 36, no. 2, Dec. 2023, pp. 115-21, doi:10.30834/KJP.36.2.2023.399.



Research Report