Magazine article Corrections Forum

Pa. Training Mentally Ill Inmates to Help Others on the Cellblock

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Pa. Training Mentally Ill Inmates to Help Others on the Cellblock

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania is training mentally ill inmates to help fellow inmates cope with mental illness, according to a August 3 news on Newsworks.org (the online component of Philadelphia public radio station WHHY). At the SCI Waymart correctional facility, which houses the state's most seriously mentally ill prisoners, 11 inmates have been certified peersupport specialists. They go through 75 hours of training and pass an exam plus are required another 18 hours of continuing education each year.

"I've heard voices in my past, so I already know how to do this," said inmate Brandon, whose last name was withheld in accordance with Pennsylvania DOC policy.

"We used to be a medical model," said Lynn Patrone, the DOC's mental health advocate. "The doctor told us what we needed, what the treatment was. Now, they're able to talk to somebody and that person will say, 'I've been where you are. …

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