Mental Health & Reentry

Did you know that nearly 1 in 4 adults report a mental illness? For justice-involved individuals, this statistic takes on an even more pressing reality. “Approximately half of the people in U.S. jails and over one-third of the population of U.S. prisons have been diagnosed with a mental illness.” As May rolls around, Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a reminder to combat stigma and promote access to mental health resources, especially for those reentering society after incarceration.

At Safer Foundation, we understand the unique challenges faced by individuals transitioning from incarceration back into their communities. We recognize the importance of addressing mental health concerns as part of the broader reentry process. That’s why we have a dedicated team of mental health professionals who meet individuals where they are on their journey to reintegration.

Two of our experts, Rucha Shastri, Associate Vice President of Behavioral Health Services, and Brittani Hicks, a Qualified Mental Health Professional, shed light on the mental health landscape for justice-involved individuals.

Anxiety and depression are common challenges during the reentry process. Brittani highlights the overwhelming anxiety and fear experienced by individuals, fearing the possibility of relapse into the justice system, or struggling to stabilize their lives. Rucha emphasizes the profound adjustment and fear of returning to society, which can manifest as depression or even symptoms of post-incarceration stress disorder—a term rarely discussed but deeply impactful.

Incarceration itself can be traumatic, and the transition back home can feel like navigating uncharted territory. Imagine being away for years, only to return to a world that has evolved drastically. Rucha touches on the struggle of adapting to a rapidly changing society, compounded by the lack of resources and support. For those who were incarcerated at a young age and return as adults, the disparity is even more pronounced.

The challenges don’t end there. Reentering individuals often face a multitude of obstacles, from basic survival needs like housing and employment to the complex dynamics of family reunification. For those who have experienced trauma or abuse, returning home can be filled with danger, perpetuating the cycle of incarceration.

Stigma adds another layer of complexity, as individuals may hesitate to acknowledge their mental health struggles for fear of judgment. However, Rucha emphasizes the importance of recognizing and addressing these issues, even if it means confronting stigma head-on.

At Safer Foundation, we take a holistic approach to reentry, providing comprehensive support that encompasses mental health, employment, housing, education, and advocacy. By addressing the multifaceted needs of justice-involved individuals, we strive to break down barriers and pave the way for successful reintegration into society.

In times of crisis, support is just a call or text away. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers immediate assistance for those in distress. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call, or text 988 or chat

To become a client and seek mental health services, visit Our team is here to support you every step of the way on your journey toward healing and reintegration.

As Mental Health Awareness Month unfolds, let us remember the importance of compassion, understanding, and support for those navigating the intersection of incarceration and mental health. Together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all individuals, regardless of their past experiences.

Toolkit – Illinois 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline:


Ebonyque T. ( 2022). Mental Health and Reentry: How Court Services Offender Agency Meets the Challenge of Mental Health Community Supervision. Dispatch 15(5). Retrieved from Mental Health and Reentry: How Court Services Offender Agency Meets the Challenge of Mental Health Community Supervision (

SAMHSA (2024, May 1) SAMHSA Mental Health Awareness Month 2024.