BESSTEL Foundation, a non-profit organisation focused on mental health has held a one-day workshop for officers of the Ghana Prisons Service on meaningfully involving their service users and staff in mental health recovery.
The workshop held at the Prisons Service Headquarters last Friday trained over twenty officers on participatory modules for delivering recovery-oriented mental healthcare for inmates.
Life Patron of BESSTEL Foundation, Mr Peter Hasler who is a former Director of Nursing delivered a video lesson on Mental Healthcare within the criminal justice system. The lesson was followed by another virtual presentation on the Recovery Model delivered by BESSTEL Founder, Stella Agyeman, Patron Dr Susham Gupta, who is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Patron Peter Hasler.
Expert User Consultant, Nashiru Momori delivered the final presentation of the training where he discussed participatory recovery and the need to build trust and relationship between care givers and service users. He also sensitised the officers on the need to include empowerment and self-determination as a component of the recovery process for service users.
Photo 1: Nashiru Momori, Expert Service User facilitating his model of the Ladder of Participation
Speaking to one of the participants after the training, Medical Director of the Medical Directorate of the Ghana Prisons Service, DSP Dr Lawrence Kofi Acheampong disclosed that the workshop was educative and had emphasised the need to improve mental healthcare delivery in the prisons. “It [workshop] was so educative. In fact, it has really made us to be on our toes in terms of organising robust mental health systems in the prisons. I think it has already rekindled our drive and what we are doing to do more in the prisons system,” he stated.
Photo 2: DSP Dr Lawrence Kofi Acheampong, Medical Superintendent, Nsawam Prison Clinic
Dr Acheampong who doubles as the Medical Superintendent of the Nsawam Prisons Clinic stated that more training would be needed for prison officers to equip them with the necessary skills in delivering safe mental healthcare for prison inmates. “Definitely we would need more education for all the prison systems in the country; for the prison officers in the various prisons. Because we have to able to roll out good mental healthcare in the prisons,” he said.
On her part, Director of Health at the Ghana Prisons Service, DDP Patience Baffoe-Bonnie revealed that the workshop was informative and insightful. She hinted that a partnership with BESSTEL Foundation would strengthen the drive towards achieving optimum mental healthcare delivery for inmates. “I think it [workshop] was very insightful and informative. It just resonates with some of our objectives as a service. So, coming on board will help us actualise some of our big dreams which include taking care of the inmates’ mental health while they’re in custody. And I think that will go a long way to help them reintegrate effectively into society,” she stated.
Photo 3: DDP Patience Baffoe-Bonnie, Director of Health at the Ghana Prisons Service,
She stressed that the mental health of inmates must be the top priority during the correctional processes in order to avoid escalating their ill mental health. “We don’t have to disregard the mental health of the people in our custody. And if we would be able to break the cycle of recidivism, we need to work effectively on their mental health. Because with the mental health and imprisonment comes stigmatisation and that affects the way they integrate and it brings them back and the cycle continues,” she explained.
Following the workshop, BESSTEL Foundation donated two new model thermometer guns to the prisons service to help protect inmates and officers from COVID-19. The equipment, which were presented by the Country Coordinator, Mr George Bessa Simons were received by the Chaplain General of the Ghana Prisons Service, Apostle James Tetteh.
Since 2018, BESSTEL Foundation has been providing support for mental healthcare delivery in various institutions. Over the course of its existence, it has provided technical and logistical support to the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, Accra Psychiatric Hospital, 37 Military Hospital, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and the Nsawam Prisons. BESSTEL Foundation has a memorandum of understanding with the Ghana Mental Health Authority, South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and the Ghana-UK Mental Health Alliance. Each year in October, the organisation sends psychiatric nurses and expert user consultancy to train psychiatric care givers on emerging models of care in mental health delivery in the hope of improving mental healthcare in Ghana.