Solace for hundreds and their family members

Hundreds of inmates in the Madurai Central Prison here and their families will have mental solace soon.

In all probability, an exclusive mental health team would be made available for prisoners to provide free psychological counselling for them and ease them out of mental trauma.

This initiative is coming under the auspices of State Mental Health Programme and it will be introduced on a pilot basis in Madurai prison after which it may be extended to jails in other places.

C. Ramasubramanian, Nodal Officer, State Mental Health Programme, told The Hindu on Sunday that right now the district psychiatrists are visiting the prison once in a fortnight but it was inadequate in view of the intense trauma faced by many jail inmates and the number of persons seeking help.

“Those who are facing trial in courts and the convicts spending life in a prison require emotional support from mental health professionals. Taking cognizance of their plight, we are planning to have a team of qualified counsellors who will spend time with prisoners and relieve them from depression. It will be done on a full-time basis,” he said.

The nodal officer pointed out that the prison warders too need orientation on how to deal with jail inmates to prevent ‘burst out’ syndrome.

“Jail wardens should know on how to deal with a prisoner in a humane way and this aspect too will be incorporated in our proposal to train staff/officials in prisons department,” he added.

He cautioned that depression among prisoners will lead to frustration and suicidal tendency.

“We will have the system in such a way that the inmates will overcome stress and would be able to face the life with confidence after coming out of prison.”

Psychological turbulence, anger, intolerance and feeling of insecurity must be handled by psychologists and psychiatrists. Through this special plan for Madurai prison, treatment and medicines would be given to those who require them.

Mental health experts will analyse the prisoners’ emotional problems and provide treatment.

Apart from dealing with inmates in jails, the State Mental Health Programme would also meet their family members who are the real sufferers, especially the children at home.

“If a person goes to jail, his family faces the real trauma and stigma. So, it is very much essential to give emotional support for them also,” Dr. Ramasubramanian said.

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