Franklin James Cook

Prison Program Teaches Self-Care for Mental Health

In Mental Illness, Prevention on September 9, 2009 at 9:40 am

In “Inmates Learn How To Better Manage Their Mental Illness,” Gannett News reporter Cara Matthews covers the Wellness Self-Management program at New York’s Fishkill Correctional Facility.

“Traditionally mental-health treatment was … that I’m the doctor, you take this medication, you’ll get better,” said Howard Holanchock, assistant mental-health commissioner for the state Department of Correctional Services. “But Wellness Self-Management puts it on the patient, to help the patient develop their kind of individual, kind of personalized goals and relapse-prevention plans.”

The report states that “about 15 percent of the approximately 59,000 state prisoners, some 8,000 people, are being treated for mental illness.” One of those 8,000 is Scott Collins, who has been in the Wellness Self-Management program for five months.

“It’s helped me get out of my shell a lot. I usually isolate,” Collins said as he sat in a circle with seven other inmates and three staff members in a basement classroom at the medium-security prison. “Being here has helped me a lot.”

The program is small (it can serve up to 160 inmates), but it is being evaluated for how prisoners who complete it “fare in terms of disciplinary actions in prison and relapse, recidivism and hospitalization after they are released.”

[The abridged URL for this post is http://tinyurl.com/PrisonSelfCare .]

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