Prison is not a pleasurable experience. In fact, it is designed to be anything but. When a crime is committed and someone gets punished like having their freedom taking away and locked up that becomes a mental strain on that person. Typically on any given day within the United States, there are between 300k to 400k people that are jailed with mental illnesses. Not to mention another 500k people on parole or correctional type control within our communities with mental illnesses.
How does prison affect mental health? Prison affects the mental health of everyone that has to do prison time. It is just some people can cope with stressful situations better than others. Prison is stressful environments with little time to relax. Because of this long term or even short term prison sentences can bring mental health effects to a person.
Do prisons have mental health care?
Prisons and jail are required to give basic health care to its inmates. But do not think there is world-class care behind prisons bars because it can vary greatly from facility to facility. Typically mental health care behind bars is more focused on the stabilization of a person, rather than treating. Here is what typical gets treatment and does not get treatment in prison in terms of mental health
May get treatment of sorts:
Typically does not get treatment
- Anxiety issues
- posttraumatic stress
There are specific rights when a prisoner needs mental health treatments. Below are some of the rights that a prison should be They are entitled to:
- The right to medical and mental health care in order to protect them from harm and staff abuse
- The right to refuse treatment that includes psychotropic medications
- Right to informed consent to treatment
- Confined in a place that can provide the treatment needed
- Right to confidentiality within the delivery of mental health services
- Right to regular medical and mental health staff
- The right to be transferred to the appropriate mental health facility
Prison and Trauma
It is no secret that prison and trauma go together. Prison is and will always be a rough place to be. Both mentally and physically. There are thousands of prisoners that get sexually abused and assaulted every year within the prison system across the United States. Not only would someone need to worry about other inmates, but also guards.
Guards work in these highly stressful situations for hours a day and they can become physically abusive to innates as well. Because of the atmosphere in prison can and does create PTSD, depression, anxiety, and more to people that had never shown these types of mental health issues before.
Woman and mental health issues in prison
Unlike their male counterparts women incarcerated show a much higher percentage of mental health issues. In-fact 66 perfect of women that are in prison reported having a mental disorder. This is almost twice that of men that are in prison.
A survey that was conducted from the year 2011 to 2012 asked both woman and men if they have been diagnosed by a professional mental health worker to be diagnosed with any type of mental health disorders. Thiry-nine percent of those people said they were diagnosed with a mental health issue or condition.
Male: Diagnosed history: 40.8 percent
Female: 67.9 percent
This is a very big number because women roughly make up about 7 percent of the prison population within the United States.
Mental health issues for people that get out after long prison sentences
Not only does prison affect mental health while being incarcerated if effects that person when they leave as well. We interviewed a person that we will not name that spent over 20 years in prison for a second offense drug charge. This person after release lasted no more than one month before starting to show mental health issues. The issues itself were more related to having so much change on the outside that they could not cope with it.
Smartphones, social media, and more were all new to this person. The person’s entire life had passed them by in terms of the location they were living in, their friends and even family had moved on. The person quickly found support from a therapist and has been making small changes to exist again on the outside.
Not only do people have the mental health issues of prison while being incarcerated, but they also have to deal with the outside world of prison once they are done with their sentence. This is an entire another issue for prisoners that get out after long prison terms.
A mental health professional can help inmates that have been released from the prison systems. These types of therapist can help the person to reconnect with family and friends and ease back and reenter society.
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