What You Should Know About Mental Health After Prison
Date:  06-05-2019

A social worker at The Fortune Society shares what people released from prison taught her
From Thrive Global:

A client who served over thirty years in prison – much of that time spent in solitary confinement, shared his fear that his panic attacks, often triggered by the sound of keys or sirens, would never go away. Another client who served thirty-nine years, described how after his release, he wanted to go back to prison because his symptoms were so debilitating and the change was so disorienting.

I’m a therapist in the mental health clinic at The Fortune Society, the nonprofit organization assisting formerly incarcerated individuals navigate the countless obstacles of reentry. At the clinic, my colleagues and I have the privilege of collaborating with Fortune Society clients in individual and group psychotherapy to provide them with support, resources, and tools that they can use to better manage their mental health and thrive in their day-to-day lives. But thriving after prison is not easy or simple.

On the occasion of Mental Health Awareness Month, we reflect on what we wish people knew about mental health and its intricacies after prison:

1. Prison is traumatizing – inside and out.

Prison is a kind of battlefield, and what incarceration looks like is unimaginable to those who haven’t experienced it. Recently, in our Recovery After Decades Lost group, the clients shared and compared with each other their time in solitary confinement, also referred to as “the box” or “SHU,” a cruel acronym for “Special Housing Unit.” One client shared his story of being in solitary confinement for fourteen days with absolutely no clothing, completely naked. Another client lost count of the number of years he spent in “the box.” Continue reading >>>