COVID-19 lockdowns impose an unprecedented loss of normalcy and freedom that most have never before encountered, which may strain mental wellbeing and diminish self-esteem.
Help them discover ways to stay productive, such as encouraging them to leave their cell when possible – this helps prevent cell anxiety.
1. Stay Connected
One key strategy for keeping prisoner mental health in good condition is staying connected with those they care for – be that through letters, e-mails or phone calls with family and loved ones. Prisoners can let loved ones know they are thinking of them and express their affection through these methods.
Prisoners often feel isolated within their cells and having someone to talk to can make all the difference in terms of mental wellbeing and reduce depression risk1. Prisons sometimes offer volunteer “listeners”, trained specifically as support providers to give an ear when needed and offer emotional support – these volunteers can often make all the difference for prisoners’ wellbeing1.
Establishing a routine and seeking assistance when needed are essential to maintaining good mental health in prison. To find out what resources are available to them, inmates can speak to Health Care, Chaplain or Wing Staff; regular exercise and healthy nutrition may also contribute to improved wellbeing. It is also crucial that prisoners stand up for themselves; those who don’t speak up could fall prey to exploitation and abuse.
At prison, those outside your immediate circle have made significant efforts just to visit you. Travel, lodging and food costs will add up quickly if they visit, so make sure they know you appreciate their effort by sharing positive events such as school grades earned, promotions at work or wedding and child milestones with them.
Avoid disturbances such as gang fights that could escalate into prison riots. Prison guards will punish anyone taking part in such activities, using whatever information is presented against you as evidence against you by prison guards. Therefore, it’s wise to avoid all forms of gang activity as much as possible even if not directly involved.
Prisoners who are allowed to leave their cells should attempt to do so as frequently as possible in order to reduce “cell anxiety,” in which prisoners avoid leaving for fear that guards will search it and take something from them, making life in prison very challenging.
2. Establish a Daily Routine
Arriving in prison for the first time can be terrifying, but once past initial shock has subsided, you must find ways to cope. Establish a routine that keeps your mind off of life behind bars; this will provide something tangible to focus on each day and gives something to work toward every day. Furthermore, avoid activities which could land you in trouble; for instance if other prisoners engage in violence try not to come near as proximity could make guards mistakenly suspect you of involvement and send you to solitary confinement.
Prison can be an isolation chamber; to combat depression and keep yourself engaged with positive activities every day. Attend classes if available, work on crafts or hobbies, read, or exercise regularly – as drugs and alcohol may exacerbate symptoms of depression.
When entering prison, it is essential that you remain polite to all. This includes inmates, staff and guards. Guards have control of your prison experience and won’t treat you kindly if they perceive any disrespect towards them from you. Other inmates will prey upon your emotions if possible so try hiding any feelings of fear or anger as this will ensure a longer survival in prison.
Gambling should also be avoided while in prison (even though you were addicted to playing online poker on any of the sites mentioned over https://centiment.io before going in) as this can be an unsafe way of passing time and could potentially put you in jeopardy – as any debts you incur from gambling may take months for repayment upon release from incarceration.
Snitching should also be avoided during prison. Not only do other inmates dislike snitches, but prison staff will view you as their enemy regardless of whether you are telling the truth or not. Furthermore, should you become one yourself, other inmates could use your name against you and send you to solitary confinement as punishment for turning.
3. Manage Your Time
Time management in prison can be essential in order to cope with your situation effectively. Staying connected with loved ones, setting a daily routine and seeking assistance if needed are all essential ways of making sure your stay productive and rewarding. By employing these strategies you can ensure your time spent behind bars is productive and worthwhile.
Finding healthy outlets is also key to making the most of your time in prison. While your hobbies, interests, and career may have to take a back seat during your sentence, finding new outlets that align with your vision and goals may prove more worthwhile. Be it enrolling in higher education classes, joining clubs, or working on advocacy projects; investing time in these activities will enable you to maximize the potential of this experience.
Before entering federal prison, it is vital to familiarize yourself with its system and learn to effectively manage your time. A novice federal prisoner with no previous experience runs the risk of offending cellmates or other inmates by handling situations incorrectly; by taking time to prepare yourself you can avoid potential issues and establish rules for success; following these tips could make prison a less daunting experience – not only that but you may emerge with greater hope in your future than when entering.
4. Reach Out for Help
Help is always there when times get difficult; in prison sentences for many prisoners is an opportunity to change lives and gain access to vital support services that ensure safety and wellbeing.
Finding someone trustworthy to talk to about your feelings can be difficult, but finding someone is absolutely vital. While a pen pal or family member might help, there are also people at prison that can offer support – they might include health care staff, the chaplain, community volunteers or even wing staff.
Some individuals who are released from prison find it challenging to secure housing when they arrive home, due to factors like high costs of living in their local area and policies making renting difficult. Finding housing can become as stressful as their time in jail – impacting mental wellbeing in ways unrelated to physical wellbeing.
There is much work being done to enhance support available to people released from prison and navigating life on the outside. We must make it easier for individuals to gain housing access, establish vital connections and develop skills necessary for employment when leaving prison.
It is essential that we don’t forget that many in prison experience immense regret and shame over what they’ve done, and finding ways to channel these feelings into doing good in society can provide a significant lift for prisoners’ well-being and restore self-esteem. Volunteering could mean helping local organizations with fundraising events, or using skills like carpentry to assist other inmates with renovating their cells, among other activities.
Emotional expressions – such as anger, fear or happiness – are seen by prison guards as weaknesses they can use against you. Therefore it’s best to refrain from showing these emotions altogether by acting calmly regardless of any unfair treatment by guards; this will demonstrate to them that you won’t easily be influenced and might remain calm under pressure, potentially keeping you out of infirmary or solitary confinement.