Prison officers have been advised not to relent on issues relating to their mental health due to the occupational, administrative and psycho-social stressors that arise in their line of duty.
This, according to the Director of Prisons in charge of Health, Mr. Samuel Adjei-Attah, can cause serious psychological distress among officers and also increase the risk of recidivism among inmates.
Mr. Adjei-Attah said this at a two-day Workshop on Mental Health which was organized by Besstel Child and Adult Psychiatric Foundation last Tuesday for a cross section of officers at the Prisons Headquarters in Accra.
According to Mr. Adjei-Attah, reformation and rehabilitation of inmates is one of the most critical areas and special mental skills needed by correctional officers for effective service delivery.
He expressed gratitude on behalf of the Prisons administration to Besstel Child and Adult Psychiatric Foundation for organizing this workshop to equip officers on mental healthcare.
‘The Service has in line with government’s commitment incorporated Mental Healthcare in its Health policy as one of the key strategies in achieving a holistic wellbeing of Prison inmates, officers and dependents’, he added.
A Forensic Physician Scientist of the Prisons service, Deputy Superintendent of Prisons (DSP) Dr. Lawrence Kofi Acheampong said, mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health, and as a matter of fact close to one billion people worldwide are living with mental disorder.
According to Dr. Acheampong, 75 percent of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders in low and middle income countries receive no treatment at all, as most of these mental disorders arise as a result of stigmatization, discrimination, punitive legislation and human rights abuses.
The head of Mental Health Literacy Training & Research/ Mental Health Promotion, Dr. Yaw Amankwa Arthur of Mental Health Authority advised officers not to downplay issues relating to their mental health and that of prisoners, but seek medical attention when the need arises. He pledged the Foundation’s commitment to support Prisons on Mental healthcare delivery.
The workshop brought together Officers from the Greater Accra and the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons. Notable among them were Assistant Director of Prisons Nii Armah Aryeetey, Chief Superintendent of Prisons (CSP) Vitalis Aiyee, CSP Ama Boadu, DSP Latif Abdul Adamu and DSP (Dr.) Florence Djoletoe.
Other dignitaries present at the workshop included: Dr. Julia Chapman (Psychiatrist-UK), Miss Lauren Cunningham( Psychologist-UK), Mr. Nashiru Momori( Recovery Expert- UK), Mrs. Stella Agyemang( Psychiatric Nurse,-Uk /CEO ) and Mr. George Bessa-Simons, all from Besstel Child and Adult Psychiatric Foundation.
A similar program was also held last Wednesday at the Ankaful Cluster of Prisons.