An ex-offender has made a film to raise awareness about the relationship between mental health and criminal behaviour.
Garreth McCarthy, who suffers with anxiety, believes there is a lack of support for offenders with mental health issues.
The 29-year-old wants the criminal justice system to help mentally ill offenders and those with learning disabilities to prevent them being caught in the ‘revolving door’ of reoffending.
‘I have been in prison many times and I blame that on my mental health with no support,’ explained Garreth, from Andover.
‘At times I felt like I was the only one in the world who felt like this,’ he added. ‘I grew up hating a world that I lived in. I grew up hating the people around me – especially adults. I blamed adults for all my problems.’
There was no mental health support inside or outside of prison for Garreth and he felt ‘safer’ inside knowing he couldn’t ‘reoffend or hurt anyone else’.
‘I have damaged myself throughout the years by the way I think and my paranoia and not having that little bit of support that could have got me through in life,’ said Garreth.
With the help of Fixers, Garreth has made a film titled ‘Misunderstood’ which he hopes to share with youth offending teams and health practitioners.
The group that feature in the video think extra support would help cut crime, improve health, reduce police and court workloads and free up prison places for serious and violent offenders.
‘We all need that little bit of extra support – the youngsters are going back into prison and serving time for crimes that they would not have committed if there was support there,’ Garreth explained.
‘Why is it we are in a system where youngsters are incarcerated and put into prison when it’s a hospital bed that they need?
‘These people don’t belong in prison they belong in a place where they’re being helped and shown the right way.’
The Fixers campaign was supported by Healthwatch Hampshire.