Focusing on Mental Health Awareness Month
May 19, 2021
May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month for over 70 years and is a time to raise awareness about mental and behavioral health issues.
In 2005, the Bureau of Justice Statistics concluded that 56% of state prisoners, 45% of Federal prisoners, and 64% of jailed inmates suffered from a mental illness. However, less than a quarter of these individuals received treatment during incarceration. As a loved one of an incarcerated individual, it’s important to talk about the challenges, stigmas, and needed solutions around mental illness.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of complexity to the issue of mental illness inside correctional facilities. NAMI’s message for Mental Health Awareness Month is “You Are Not Alone.” While true, incarcerated individuals today may feel more disconnected from you and other loved ones and more alone than ever in their struggle against mental illness. For that reason, GTL began a free weekly communications program that allows incarcerated individuals to connect with loved ones, receive support, and continue keeping a positive outlook about their situation.
GTL introduced several other new initiatives to help address the emotional and mental health of your incarcerated loved ones and assist with successful reentry.
- Art Therapy app: In partnership with Pamela Hayes, incarcerated individuals can access art therapy content on GTL tablets at no cost. Art therapy is an effective mental health treatment for individuals who have experienced trauma, medical illness, depression, and social difficulties. It can help reduce anxiety, refine communication skills, and teach individuals how to better handle feelings of frustration, disappointment, and anger.
- Dr. Christian Conte: GTL partnered with one of the country’s most accomplished mental health specialists in the field of anger and emotional management to provide exclusive content for incarcerated individuals and correctional institutions.
- Through a partnership with Breaking Free Group, GTL offers the “Breaking Free from Substance Abuse” digital program on tablets to assist incarcerated individuals in achieving and maintaining recovery from dependence on over 70 different substances.
For those outside a facility’s walls, there are many national organizations focused on getting help for individuals suffering from mental illness, ensuring their safety and well-being:
- NAMI Stepping Up Initiative – Brings together mental health organizations, substance abuse organizations, and law enforcement associations to divert people with mental illness from incarceration into treatment.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – Provides a location-based list of substance abuse and mental health treatment.
- Give an Hour – Offers free and confidential mental health care to all populations through a network of professional volunteers.
Reach out to your loved one and extend your support!
Posted In: Blog