AN EX-OFFENDER who struggles with anxiety is calling for support for criminals with mental health problems.

Garreth McCarthy, from Andover, has made a film to raise awareness about the relationship between mental health and criminal behaviour.

The 29-year-old is urging the criminal justice system to help those with difficulties and others 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,” Garreth said.

“At times I felt like I was the only one in the world who felt like this.

“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 says he felt safer inside knowing he could not 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.”

With the help of young people’s charity Fixers, Garreth has made a film titled Misunderstood, which he hopes to share with youth offending teams and health practitioners to make a change.

The film outlines shared their views of how extra support inside prison would prevent offenders from committing crimes again.

The group featuring in the video expressed how they felt extra support given in prisons would help to cut crime, improve health, reduce police and court workloads and time, and free up prison places for serious and violent offenders.

Garreth added: “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.

“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.”

To watch the film go to