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If you think you are coming out of prison without the support you need for your mental illness you must tell prison staff before you leave. They should be able to provide you with support.

The more you can do to plan ahead before discharge, the better.

We advise that while you are still in prison, you check that mental health support services in prison are in communication with those in the community. If this is the case, you are more likely to receive the right services as soon as possible when you are released.

If you have nowhere to live on release, it is extremely important to engage with housing services before you leave. Make full use of any resettlement services available inside the prison and ask for help from family and friends.

If you intend to claim benefits on release, you should do so as soon as possible to avoid delay in receiving benefit.

  • Hafal’s advice: On the recovery page you’ll find information on care planning. It is a good idea to look at this section before you leave prison so that you can consider what practical steps you need to take before and after your release.


If you receive a sentence of less than 12 months you will be released directly into the community. You will not have to see an offender management team but you may be subject to a home detention curfew (also know as a ‘tag’). This involves having an electronic device attached to your ankle that can show if you have left your home during times when you are not supposed to.

If you receive a sentence of 12 months or more you will come out on what is called a licence. There are different types of licence and some, like a parolelicence, depend on the length of your original sentence. Being on licence means that you are still serving a sentence but you can live in the community instead of being in prison.

Being under licence means that you will be under the supervision of the Probation Service. You will have to keep appointments with the offender management team and undertake any programme of work they have designed for you. You will have an offender manager whose job it is to ensure that your sentence plan is carried out. The offender manager has overall responsibility for you, and for ensuring your needs are met.

  • Hafal’s advice: Do not miss appointments with your offender manager (unless you have a note from your GP). If you do miss appointments you could be taken back to court and you could end up in prison.


The programme of work designed for you should take account of your mental health needs and it is important that you keep to the programme as it will be designed to help you stay out of trouble in the future.