Corby faces mental health challenges

Life in prison would have been an extraordinary experience for Schapelle Corby and adapting to freedom will not be easy, says a psychiatrist.

Schapelle Corby's high-profile release from prison could be a recipe for disaster, with health experts concerned about her ability to cope as a free person.

Most people struggle when they are released, particularly after longer sentences.

"It's like flicking a switch," said University of Melbourne Associate Professor Stuart Kinner.

"Prison life is very structured. Then suddenly people must make their own decisions.

"It can be very anxiety-provoking. People can forget to make basic decisions," said Prof Kinner, a specialist in helping people make the transition from prison to the community.

A high degree of media and public scrutiny would not make it any easier, he said.

Corby was reported to have spent time in hospital for depression and psychosis during her sentence and in 2010 used her mental illness as a motivator for clemency.

Existing or previous conditions would be a factor in her ability to cope, said psychiatrist Dr Gregory de Moore of the University of Sydney.

He said the energy around her release had been surreal.

"She needs people who can shield her. Her family need to be an ally. It's extremely important for her to have confidants in and outside the family.

"Her physical and mental health will be vulnerable in the next couple of years."

The talk about large sums of money being paid for media interviews was also a concern.

"People might assume she and the family will be made extremely wealthy.

"She could be swayed, pushed and pulled down a pathway that she may not wish to pursue.

"She may want quiet isolation. She may not want to go down a high-profile route. That's where the family come in."

Eventually she would be left with herself, her family, her thoughts and her conscience, he said.

The release of a relative from prison could be stressful for families, said Prof Kinner.

"But it can also be a great time."

He said he did not know the specifics of the Corby case, but suspected they were not typical.

"Most Australians returning from prison to the community are profoundly disadvantaged and have very few resources at their disposal."

However, Corby was likely to tick all the main boxes of family support, safe accommodation and a decent job.

It's believed she will be living at her brother-in-law's house and intends to design and make bikinis at the family business.

She must also go for counselling as part of her parole conditions and will have access to good doctors and hospitals.

It was obvious to anyone following her trial on TV that Corby was highly traumatised, said Dr de Moore.

"I don't know how she was treated in jail but we know it would have been very different to life as a civilian in Australia.

"It would have been an extraordinary experience and adapting to freedom will not be easy.

"She will need extremely wise guides. People who can put in boundaries where they need to placed."

Source AAP

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