Introduction: Psychology Services departments in all Bureau of Prisons institutions offer basic mental health care to inmates. This care may include screening, assessment and treatment of mental health or drug abuse problems, individual and/or group counseling, psycho-educational classes, self-help and supportive services, or referral to Health Services for medical treatment of a mental illness.
In addition, Psychology Services staff, along with other programming staff in the institution, collaborate with your Unit Team to develop a comprehensive assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Based on this assessment, Psychology Services will offer programming recommendations specific to your psychological needs. These recommendations are designed to ensure your successful adjustment to incarceration and prepare you for your eventual release. We encourage you to participate actively in the assessment process.
If mental health or drug abuse programming is recommended for you, Psychology Services staff will provide ongoing feedback to you and your unit team regarding your progress toward these programming goals.
If you are new to the Bureau, or if you have previously identified mental health or drug abuse programming needs, you will be scheduled for an interview with Psychology Services staff. The purpose of this interview is to review your history and identify your programming needs. This interview is an ideal time for you to share your interest in specific services, such as drug abuse treatment or mental health counseling.
There are a number of ways to contact Psychology Services at this institution.
Submit an Inmate Request to a Staff Member to Psychology Services.
Speak with a Psychology Services staff member during mainline or as they make rounds in your unit.
Or in the case of a crisis situation, notify your Unit Officer, Unit Team, or any other Bureau staff member of your urgent need to speak with Psychology Services.
II. Suicide Prevention: Incarceration can be a difficult experience. At times you may feel discouraged, frustrated and helpless. It is not uncommon for people to experience depression while in jail or prison, especially if they are newly incarcerated, serving a long sentence, experiencing family problems, struggling to get along with other inmates, or receiving bad news. Over time, most inmates successfully adapt to incarceration and find ways to use their time productively and meaningfully. However, some inmates continue to struggle with the pressures of incarceration and become overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness. If you feel a sense of hopelessness or begin thinking about suicide, talk to a staff member. Help is available and actively seeking help is a sign of your strength and determination to prevail. If you feel you are in imminent danger of harming yourself or someone else, you should contact a staff member immediately.
In addition, if you suspect another inmate is contemplating suicide, please notify a staff member. Staff do not always see everything inmates see. And, most suicidal individuals display some warning signs of their intentions. PLEASE alert a staff member right away if you suspect a fellow inmate is considering suicide. The most effective way to prevent another person from taking his or her life is to recognize the factors that put people at risk for suicide, take warning signs seriously and know how to respond. The warning signs of suicide may include:
threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
increased alcohol or drug use
withdrawing from friends, family, associates
experiencing dramatic mood changes
feeling anxious or agitated, being unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time
seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose
If your friend, cellmate, coworker, or associate is exhibiting these signs, start by telling the person you are concerned and give him/her examples of what you see that worries you. Listen and encourage the person to seek help. If they are hesitant, offer to go with them to speak to a staff member. If you are not confident they will seek help, notify a staff member yourself. Seeking help for a person in distress isn’t snitching, it is showing concern for the welfare of a fellow human being. If you report your concerns to staff, you can rest easy knowing you did everything within your power to assist the individual.
Nonresidential Counseling Groups: The Resolve Program also includes a treatment component – non-residential counseling groups. Only those inmates with a history of trauma and an associated mental health problem may participate in Resolve Program counseling groups. These groups are designed to improve coping skills, build healthy relationships, and enhance emotional stability. This institution does not have a Resolve Program. If you are interested in the Resolve Program, please submit an Inmate Request to a Staff Member to the Psychology Services Department.
V. The Challenge Program [high security institutions only]: The Challenge Program is an intensive, residential program for inmates with drug abuse and/or mental health problems and is available in all Bureau penitentiaries. Treatment is highly structured and inmates with drug programs and those with mental health programs are housed together in a treatment unit that is set apart from the general population. The Challenge Unit is a safe harbor for those who want to work out drug abuse and/or mental health problems. Inmates may volunteer for the Challenge program at any time during their incarceration. The Challenge program is typically a 9 month program, but your time in the program depends on your treatment needs and your progress in treatment.
To apply for the Challenge Program you must send an Inmate Request to a Staff Member to obtain an interview for the program.
VI. Specialized Mental Health Programs: The Bureau also has several residential mental health programs designed to help inmates with severe emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems. These programs are indicated for inmates who are having difficulty functioning in a mainline institution due to a psychological disorder. They are designed to improve the day to day functioning of inmates with the goal of helping them return to a mainline institution or preventing the need for hospitalization. Psychology Services has additional information about these programs and can make recommendations for participation.
VII. The Sex Offender Management Program [male institutions only]: The Bureau of Prisons offers sex offender treatment programs at our Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) institutions. SOMP institutions have a higher proportion of sex offenders in their general population. Having a larger number of sex offenders at SOMP institutions ensures that treatment volunteers feel safe about participating in programming.
The Bureau’s sex offender treatment programs are stratified into two program levels:
A. The Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program: The Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-R) is a high intensity program designed for high risk sexual offenders – ordinarily inmates with multiple sex offenses, or a history of contact sexual offenders. The SOTP-R is offered at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Devens, Massachusetts.
B. The Non-residential Sex Offender Treatment Program: The Non-residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-NR) is a moderate intensity program designed for low to moderate risk sexual offenders. Many of the inmates in the SOTP-NR are first-time offenders serving a sentence for an Internet sex crime. All SOMP institutions offer the SOTP-NR.
When you volunteer for treatment, Bureau staff will determine whether the Residential or Non-residential Treatment Program is appropriate for you based on your offense history. If eligible for treatment, you will be transferred to a SOMP institution based on your treatment needs and security level.
If you are interested in receiving sex offender treatment and would like to know if you are eligible for the program, contact Psychology Services. You may apply at any point in your sentence. However, inmates ordinarily enter treatment when they have between 24 to 42 months remaining on their sentence. If you are at the beginning of your sentence or have more than 48 months remaining on your sentence, you may want to wait before applying for the program.
VIII. Institution Specific Programs: None at this time.
IX. Confidentiality: Security needs and the nature of a prison environment affect mental health care in a variety of ways.