8.1 Module 8 Discussion: Mental Health Programs for Inmates (5%)

You are responsible for the administration of mental health services for your provincial correctional system. You have been under pressure from the Minister of Correctional Services who states you have ignored the needs of the mentally ill. Two mentally ill inmates have recently committed suicide and another seriously assaulted a staff member. Use this online discussion to:

offer your opinions on how an effective mental health program for inmates can be designed
what its components would be
what resources you would seek or consult to establish and implement the program.

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Example
Offer your opinions on how an effective mental health program for inmates can be designed?
I believe that the first step to providing adequate mental heath programs in any correctional facility is for all staff including administrators to attend regular mental health training a few times year. I would also provide the staff within house training on how to physically handle inmates that may struggling from different illnesses. This would then be taken back into the facility and on the units for the staff to work together closely with the inmates providing them with accurate information. Upon entry into a correctional facility all inmates will get screened, assessment, and treatment of mental health problems and or the well being of those individuals with their mental health problem. The admission desk will then put out referrals to all necessary departments they feel are warranted. The staff being aware of what to look out for with new inmates who are struggling from mental health conditions, will allow a faster connection to the resources in the facility should any inmate display symptoms. It would then be important to have a type of response team, consisting of management, physicians and psychiatrists redially available for the inmates to have support should any acute situations arise. Inmates will be required to check in weekly with a scheduled visit to talk about their progress or any concerns they are having until they feel they are in a more stable mind set. There will be shorter intervals in cell checks and there will be staff watching the cameras in the cells on a regular basis with inmates at a immediate suicide risk.

what its components would be?

There would be Mental health services that are client-centred, holistic, culturally sensitive, gender appropriate, comprehensive, and sustainable. This would be broken down further by:

1. Woman offenders will be housed together on their own units, possibly within the same facility as the men offenders.
2. Youth offenders will remain in their own facility and allowed to complete their sentence there if there is good behaviour.
3. Offenders with special needs will remain under close observation and on a unit together where they are able to socialize with other inmates not locked up 22 hours a day.
4. Inmates that struggle with suicidal ideation, will be provided with a therapist to discuss what may be causing this problem and ways of coping with the emotions that may be part of it.
5. There would be mental health classes for all inmates to attend at different stages of their sentencing. (Small groups)
6. Separate section for correctional officers who may be struggling with PTSD or are struggling with the daily expectations of their job to seek medical advice.
7. There would be sections of the facility that would cater to the different cultural needs of the inmates so they can still perform their rituals.
8. Halfway through a sentence, I would provide mandatory life skills classes to help inmates with resume writing and looking for places once released back into society.
9. Once released there would be a bridge program working with probation/parole officers. This will allow the offenders a chance to live in a group home, providing them with support within certain job agencies and providing follow up for a to make sure there isn’t any temptations or recidivism.

what resources you would seek or consult to establish and implement the program?

I would arrange for a group of physicians trained in different areas, therapists, correctional officers, nursing staff, and cultural groups to unite together to provide a safer environment for the staff and the inmates. It would be important for the staff to have resources radially available to them if they felt they needed someone to talk to, as their mental state is what will keep the facility running smoothly. I would speak with the correctional warden to address any concerns that may be at the correctional facility level. I would implement the new changes with the warden and provide a follow up once the they are addressed to make sure there is not any missed levels of security.

References:
CSC. (2015). Mental Health Strategy. Retrieved from Correctional Service Canada: https://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/health/092/MH-strategy-eng.pdf

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