Mental health in prisons

There is a gap in human resources and medication to effectively deal with people with mental conditions, Medecins Sans Frontiers Head of Mission Assistant, Philomena Jaravaza, said last week.

She added that the organization had been working in the country’s prisons voluntarily since 2009. The most common mental illnesses that prisoners in the country suffer from is schizophrenia.

Apart from Mlondozi Prison in Bulawayo where a psychiatrist visits three times a week, prisons countrywide suffer from lack of adequate support for those with mental health problems.

“Patients in Mlondozi seem to be well served compared to those in Chikurubi and all other prisons,” said Jaravaza. “At Chikurubi there is no regular psychiatrist visit and management is often carried out by psychiatric nurses.”

Jaravaza said that there was a need to make mental health drugs available.

“There is need to engage a psychiatrist to diagnose and treat inmates at Chikurubi Maximum and Female prisons,” said Jaravaza.

Deputy Commissioner for ZPS Human Resources, Fadzai Mapure, said that the care of prisoners was a community responsibility, adding that there was a need to ensure that, when released, prisoners were accepted by their families.

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