KARNATAKA

NIMHANS launches study of mental health of prisoners

Lending an ear: Governor Rameshwar Thakur interacting with prisoners at the Central Jail at the launch of the study of mental health of prison inmates, in Bangalore on Wednesday. Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court Cyriac Joseph is with him.

Lending an ear: Governor Rameshwar Thakur interacting with prisoners at the Central Jail at the launch of the study of mental health of prison inmates, in Bangalore on Wednesday. Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court Cyriac Joseph is with him.  

Staff Reporter

It has been taken up in association with Department of Prisons and KSLSA

BANGALORE: The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) on Wednesday started the study of mental health of prison inmates — the first of its kind in the country.

The study is being done as part of the project, Mental Health Care in Prisons.

The NIMHANS is undertaking the project in association with the Department of Prisons and the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA). Governor Rameshwar Thakur launched the project in Bangalore Central Prison on Wednesday.

The study will try to understand the mental health status of the prison inmates and know their problems in a better way.

The findings will be used to sensitise prison staff about the ways in which prisoners can be handled.

The findings of the study and the experiences of the investigating team will be published in a form of a book, which will serve as a guide to improve conditions of prisons in the country.

Higher incidence

According to Director and Vice-Chancellor of NIMHANS D. Nagaraja, two per cent of population suffers from serious mental disorders, while about 7 per cent has general mental problems. But those confined to places such as prisons, the incidence of disorders is about three times than those who were not incarcerated.

Though studies were been carried out in other countries, unfortunately no study had been done on the prison inmates here. “We are duty bound to provide proper mental health care to prison inmates,” Dr. Nagaraja observed.

This 18-month project has been divided into three phases, with the first phase assessing the mental health morbidity of prison inmates.

P. Rajini of Bangalore Prison Hospital, who is one among the five psychiatrists involved in the study, said 5,000 convicts — including long service undertrials and new undertrials — will be made to answer a detailed 40-page questionnaire.

Three research assistants will elicit the replies of inmates and create a database. The responses will be studied by the five member investigation team headed by Suresh Bada Math, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, NIMHANS.

Guidebook

In the second phase, NIMHANS will conduct a series of training programmes for officials of the Central Prisons in Bangalore, Mysore, Dharwad, Belgaum, Bellary, Gulbarga and Bijapur.

In the third phase, NIMHANS will publish its findings and recorded data in a book which will serve as a guide for managing prisons and dealing with inmates.

Speaking on the occasion, Governor Rameshwar Thakur said though prison inmates undergo greater physical and mental stress, they did not receive the same kind of healthcare as others got.

There was need to improve the identification and management of mental disorders at the primary care level.

Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court Cyriac Joseph, who is also the chief patron of KSLSA, said the authority was proud to be associated with the project that would serve as an example for other States to emulate. The authority had financed the project and had released Rs. 13.72 lakh for the purpose. Mr. Joseph commended the members of the authority for thinking differently and widening the scope of legal services.

Mr. Joseph said the prison inmates, who have restriction of their movement, had the right to get all the necessary health care facilities.

Executive chairman of KSLSA V. Gopala Gowda and Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) S.T. Ramesh spoke.

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