The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue April 2012
There is a problem in prison that needs more attention and that problem is depression. A recent survey measuring the quality of prison life here at HMP Maidstone found that 21% of prisoners had thought about suicide. Some prisoners enter prison already suffering from depression or develop it whilst inside. Depression makes it harder to cope, interferes with communication skills, lowers performance on offending behaviour programmes, can bring on aggression and violence, can lead to drug misuse and self-harming, and, in some cases, can lead to suicide. If it is not treated whilst the person is in prison then they will leave prison with one more extra problem.
The symptoms of depression are physical as well as psychological and some people may not realise that they have it as it can develop slowly and they normally put it down to feeling tired or just being a bit under the weather.
I suggest a course should be introduced in order to help people cope with depression. Prisons already run courses for problems such as anger management, drug/alcohol misuse, relationships, decision making, sexual problems, parenting and communication, etc but nothing for depression. Many of the courses in prison are based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is a ‘talking’ therapy and works on the way we think, feel and behave to treat problems. Extensive research has shown that CBT is very effective at treating depression and can be used alongside other treatments such as antidepressants.
I have spoken about this to various prison departments, staff and governors but I was met with lack of interest and negativity in response. Depression is treatable, so prisoners should not have to suffer in silence.
Comments about this letter
14/4/2012 big red -I left prison after four yrs 4months and am now being treated for severe depression. I honestly think that it could have been reduced if not cured by some form of treatment while i was inside.
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