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The AWARE Project

The AWARE Project is a multi-agency training for working with prisoners and former prisoners with mental health needs.


To train relevant staff to recognise, refer and/or treat moderate to severe mental health problems within the confines of daily prison and probation systems, and to foster better integration between agencies working in prisons and probation on health, mental health, substance abuse and resettlement. The aim of the training is both to reduce stress factors for staff and to deliver more effective outcomes for the successful resettlement of prisoners.

Target group

Prisoners, prison staff, probation staff, mental and public health staff and civil society/ NGO staff who work in EU MS prison or probation services, social service staff and any other staff working with prisoners or former prisoners in prisons or in the community.

Structure and main activities

AWARE will be a partnership between 3+ national or regional European prison and probation authorities and their local (statutory and/ NGO) healthcare provider, backed up by prison staff training expertise.

  • Research and develop existing, transferrable training provision and assessing needs of different agency staff
    • In cooperation the prison, probation, health, mental health, substance abuse and resettlement agencies targeted, project partners and participating staff we will evaluate and develop useful training materials, hands-on experience in addressing the specific qualities and skills which will reduce stress on staff as well as bringing about more successful outcomes for individuals.
    • We will engage with all agency staff and prospective trainees in interviews and online questionnaires to further deepen our understanding of practitioner needs.
    • We will engage with prisoners and former prisoners themselves, to establish what they feel will best support their treatment and resettlement needs.
    • Existing expert recommendations and handbooks (WHO “management checklist” and local studies) will define our selection criteria.
    • Material for thematic training modules will be developed which both builds on and complements existing training courses, and fills existing skills gaps.
  • Delivering training events and developing a manual
    • We will deliver engaging training events which train practical, relevant and transferrable skills in a hands-on and participatory way.
    • Pre-training, own language e-learning modules will ensure that all participants begin training from a similar starting point, regardless of which agency staff work for (see dissemination).
    • Training will be modularized, focusing on practical implementation of specific recommendations but flagging broader material.
    • Face to face learning will be delivered during a short, 3-day study visit, by experienced and knowledgeable trainers. Material will be accessible and designed as ‘train-the-trainers’.
    • An online pre- and post- evaluation survey will assess the impact of training on participants’ daily work. These evaluations will help improve the responsiveness of the next training event.
    • The learning from all training events, a national thematic seminar and other activities will combine in an AWARE training course.

Key deliverables

  • AWARE short training course to support staff working with prisoners or former prisoners with moderate to severe mental health issues.
  • AWARE course condensed as accessible e-learning modules.
  • Enhance integration between agencies and case studies showing how this could work in different systems.
  • Website as a cooperative knowledge sharing hub, and supported social media platforms.
  • High-level seminar to show the value of this training and the integration of agencies.
  • Publish research based on original data.
  • Expanding a network of contact points of mental health in prison and probation multipliers, and of training providers (or similar cooperation mechanisms) for relevant staff to exchange information on ongoing training needs and implementation.

Find more about the project:


Documents & Resources:

Tool to assess current mental health provisions for (former) prisoners with mental health needs, to assess their experience and needs as they perceive them