Background: The foreign national prisoner (FNP) population in England and Wales has disproportionately increased in size, but mental health research in this group has been limited. Aims: Define the FNP group, review their understood characteristics, identify service challenges and make onward recommendations. Methods: A literature search of Pubmed and Google Scholar was undertaken. Relevant articles/reports were identified and reviewed. Results: Many FNPs face challenges: isolation (with limited family contacts); language barriers; difficulties accessing services; prejudice and discrimination; active legal issues regarding immigration. These are compounded by poor quality interpreting services, institutional barriers including racial assumptions propagated by forces of legislation, the disrupted local care pathways and common mental health problems (including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety). Pre-detention trauma, self-harm and suicide are over-represented. Conclusions: Further prevalence and unmet needs research is urgently required. A validated screening tool could assist identification and service access for FNPs with mental health problems. Services providing relatively inexpensive interventions specific to the needs of FNPs (e.g. narrative exposure therapy) should be piloted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-339
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Deportation
  • Extradition
  • Foreign national prisoners
  • Immigration
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Secure environment


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