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Many male prisoners have significant mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. High proportions struggle with homelessness and substance misuse.
This study aims to evaluate whether the Engager intervention improves mental health outcomes following release.
The design is a parallel randomised superiority trial that was conducted in the North West and South West of England (ISRCTN11707331). Men serving a prison sentence of 2 years or less were individually allocated 1:1 to either the intervention (Engager plus usual care) or usual care alone. Engager included psychological and practical support in prison, on release and for 3–5 months in the community. The primary outcome was the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation Outcome Measure (CORE-OM), 6 months after release. Primary analysis compared groups based on intention-to-treat (ITT).
In total, 280 men were randomised out of the 396 who were potentially eligible and agreed to participate; 105 did not meet the mental health inclusion criteria. There was no mean difference in the ITT complete case analysis between groups (92 in each arm) for change in the CORE-OM score (1.1, 95% CI –1.1 to 3.2, P = 0.325) or secondary analyses. There were no consistent clinically significant between-group differences for secondary outcomes. Full delivery was not achieved, with 77% (108/140) receiving community-based contact.
Engager is the first trial of a collaborative care intervention adapted for prison leavers. The intervention was not shown to be effective using standard outcome measures. Further testing of different support strategies for prison with mental health problems is needed.
Public health strategies have focused largely on physical health. However, there is increasing recognition that raising mental health awareness and tackling stigma is crucial to reduce disease burden. National campaigns have had some success but tackling issues locally is particularly important.
To assess the public's awareness and perception of the monthly BBC Cornwall mental health phone-in programmes that have run for 8.5 years in Cornwall, UK (population 530 000).
A consultation, review and feedback process involving a multiagency forum of mental and public health professionals, people with lived experience and local National Health Service trust's media team was used to develop a brief questionnaire. This was offered to all attendees at two local pharmacies covering populations of 27 000 over a 2-week period.
In total, 14% (95% CI 11.9–16.5) were aware of the radio show, 11% (95% CI 9.0–13.1) have listened and the majority (76%) of those who listened did so more than once. The estimated reach is 70 000 people in the local population, of whom approximately 60 000 listen regularly. The show is highly valued among respondents with modal and median scores of 4 out of 5.
Local radio is a successful, cost-effective and impactful way to reach a significant proportion of the population and likely to raise awareness, reduce stigma and be well received. The format has been adopted in other regions thus demonstrating easy transferability. It could form an essential part of a public health strategy to improve a population's mental well-being.
Declaration of interest
W.H. received support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for the South West Peninsula UK. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. L.R. and D.S. were involved in delivering the programmes but had no role in their evaluation.