Jailbirds prone to mental health problems

Kathmandu, January 12

Considering the need to address problems related with the mental health of prisoners, Nepal Health Society organised mental health treatment and psychosocial counseling programme here today.

Speaking at the event, speakers talked about mental health problems seen in jailbirds and the causes of those problems. They also shed light upon the need for timely treatment and counseling for the prisoners. “Isolation, guilty conscience, pessimism, lack of privacy, and prison violence, among others, cause mental health problems in prisoners,” said Rishi Raj Ojha, director at Nepal Health Society.

Similarly violation of human rights, discriminatory practices, abuse, identity crisis and various chronic health problems lead to mental health problems in jailbirds, according to Ojha.

Speakers at the event also talked about long term plans and programmes to address the mental health problems of jailbirds. Speakers demanded a regular counseling for prisoners, trainings for prison staff, security personnel and health workers working at various prisons. Highlighting the discrimination faced by prisoners in jail regarding health services and other facilities, speakers demanded equal health rights for prisoners and general public. “Prisoners should not be kept completely aloof from the society, they should be allowed to spend some time with their family and community members,” said Krishna Chandra Ghimire, Director General at Department of Prison Management.

“In comparison to general public, prisoners suffer more mental health problems. Among prisoners also, females are more prone to mental health problems,” said Ojha. From among 19,000 inmates in the country 20 to 25 per cent is suffering from mental health problems, as per Gautam. “The rate is higher in females as they are unlikely to be accepted by their family after doing their time in jail and are insecure in both jail and outside jail,” he added. He also accused the government of not providing free health services to inmates.

The speakers highlighted the importance of addressing mental health problems during the event. “If we aren’t able to address mental health problems of prisoners, they will do further damage to society. There are even risks for suicide in prison too. Addressing needs of people with mental disorders increases the chances of them adjusting in community quickly, which may, in turn,” said Suraj Shakya Assistant Professor at Department of Psychiatry, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.

Ghimire said the government had started building a 15-bed mental hospital inside Nakkhu jail aiming to provide mental health services to the prisoners.