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    Mental Health

    Prison mental health guide: Caring for your well-being (50-70 characters)

    By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023

    Prison mental health guide

    This informative booklet provides valuable insights into maintaining good mental health while in a prison environment. Immerse yourself in practical tips and guidance that can positively impact your well-being, even in challenging circumstances.

    “I also had to understand and accept that I was in prison because of my own actions and consequences. The consequence was a prison sentence. Yet, even though I am a prisoner, I can still achieve and make a success of my life.” – Anonymous Prisoner

    Understanding Mental Health in Prison

    Your mental health encompasses your thoughts, emotions, and ability to navigate life’s highs and lows. Prioritizing your mental well-being in prison offers several advantages:

    • Coping better with the prison environment
    • Making positive changes to enhance your overall well-being
    • Establishing stronger support networks with family, fellow inmates, and dedicated professionals

    It’s worth acknowledging that everyone’s mental health experiences fluctuations. There will be times when you feel down, stressed, or fearful. In most cases, these emotions pass naturally, but sometimes they evolve into more serious problems.

    Self-harm is a pressing issue in prisons, particularly among women. However, if you’re grappling with self-harm, do not hesitate to seek assistance from the mental health team.

    “Jail can be scary, with unfamiliar surroundings, loud noises, and a routine that revolves around time…” – Anonymous Prisoner

    Factors Impacting Mental Health: Bereavement and Substance Abuse

    Various elements significantly influence mental health, with two major contributors being bereavement and substance abuse.

    Bereavement and Loss

    Prison staff recognize that more support is necessary when prisoners experience bereavement. Missing out on family events is undoubtedly challenging, but the most distressing situation can arise when you face the death and funeral of a loved one.

    In some cases, you may be eligible for special licenses that enable you to visit a dying relative or attend a funeral. Reach out to the staff to determine if such a license is available for you.

    Alternatively, under escort, you might be allowed to attend a funeral or visit a dying relative. Escort arrangements involve a minimum of two officers accompanying you and may involve the use of restraints if deemed necessary during the risk assessment.

    During such difficult times, it’s crucial to request support from the chaplain, who can provide pastoral care. If needed, ask the chaplain to visit you again.

    Sharing the news with trustworthy individuals, be it officers, fellow prisoners, Listeners, or even the Samaritans helpline, is essential. Bottling up the news can do more harm than good.

    If you struggle to cope after a bereavement, seek support. For further information, you can contact the Prison Reform Trust.

    Substance Abuse

    The prevalence of drugs within prison walls is a well-documented issue. Whether you have a history of drug use or are entirely new to it, this poses significant challenges.

    Consider this: Taking drugs while in prison often leads to feeling worse than before. One specific drug, synthetic marijuana known as Spice or K2, is highly addictive and has severe side effects such as vomiting and seizures.

    Navigating the complexities surrounding drugs in the prison system can be overwhelming. Whenever possible, it’s always best to say “no” and continue to decline drugs.

    For additional information and support for yourself, your family, and friends, consider reaching out to the following organizations:

    • Adfam
    • Alcoholics Anonymous
    • Release
    • Frank

    Caring for your mental health in a prison setting is crucial. By prioritizing your well-being and seeking support when needed, you can strive towards personal growth and a successful life, even within the confines of a prison. Remember, you are not alone on this journey.

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