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‘Millions’ reaches out to inmates, warders

LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes

MOTHER of Millions Foundation says inmates and staff at correctional facilities should undergo regular mental health check-ups and treatment.

The organisation says it has observed that the issues related to mental health in correctional facilities do not end with inmates and that there is a need to start with correctional officers. 

In an interview with the Sun, Mother of Million Foundation founder Faith Kalungia said it was sad that some correctional facility warders had a bad attitude towards inmates.

Ms Kalungia said the officers were not trained in diplomacy and exhibited punitive behaviour.

“For example, once you get into the main gate of the prison there are one or two officers that will treat you like you are an inmate even when you are not an offender. Imagine they treat you like that, you who is an outsider, what more the inmates?” she said.

Ms Kalungia said such behaviour had made her organisation feel it was important to offer mental health services starting with the officers who took care of inmates and the inmates themselves.

She said the service was important because the officers were looking after the inmates who were psychologically traumatised when they came to prison.

The prison warders ended up carrying the burden, and the inmates had families that came from outside equally who got affected.   

Ms Kalungia called for a policy that would ensure there were mental health services at all the correctional facilities.

“We are advocating mental health services so that once someone enters prison, they are counselled because these are correctional facilities meaning that when an inmate comes in prison they should not expect to be ill-treated,” Ms Kalungila said.

She said inmates should know their rights even within correctional facilities.

“We know that their rights are taken away, but they still have certain rights as human beings even within the confinement of prison which they need to exercise and know,” Ms Kalungila said.

She said the foundation had started the programme of mental health treatment and that it was able to counsel women and help them relate with the inmates as well as the officers.

She appealed to the government and more organisations to come on board.

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