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The value of positive relationships for those with mental health distress in society and whilst Incarcerated.

De Raaij, Florentine (2021). The value of positive relationships for those with mental health distress in society and whilst Incarcerated.. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Whilst there is strong evidence that mental health is negatively impacted by imprisonment, there is a lack of exploration of the individuals directly experiencing the phenomenon. There is also a lack of independent research on the topic, done from a psychological perspective. This research offers a unique and in-depth qualitative exploration of what occurs when individuals experience mental health distress when in prison.

Semi-structured interviews were carried out with five previously incarcerated male individuals, recruited from a drug and alcohol recovery service. An abbreviated version of the constructivist grounded theory method was then used to construct a tentative explanatory theory. A constructivist epistemology and critical realist ontology was taken to the data collection and analysis process.

The findings of this research were split into four categories, which consist of the environmental impact, inmate needs, access to services, as well as relationships inside and outside of prison. Through the analysis it became clear that the environment negatively affects the mental health of inmates, leading to need of consistent support from services. The ability to develop positive relationships both within the prison and outside of the prison environment was a fundamental factor which impacted the ability to receive consistent and appropriate support.

The relevance and findings of this research are then discussed in detail, in relation to relevant literature and empirical research. The findings highlight that the experiences of incarcerated individuals with mental health distress are negatively impacted by the overall structure and the make-up of mental health support services which currently exists in prisons. Based on the findings, practice recommendations are outlined which relate to both the prison environment as well as counselling psychology practice in these contexts. These practice recommendations can ensure that incarcerated individuals are more consistently and effectively supported through healthcare services in these contexts.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Final Portfolio - Library Submission(1).pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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