Human Rights Day: Torture in US prisons leaves inmates mentally ill - Sovereign Health Group
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12-08-17 Category: Mental Health

Human Rights Day: Torture in US prisons leaves inmates mentally ill

“Remove that damned tongue ring,” yelled a hefty prison officer, holding his Taser at 20-year-old Whitney Wakefield’s (name changed) head. Standing in a women’s cell of the California State Prison in Lancaster, Los Angeles County, Wakefield was ordered to disrobe completely, remove all jewelry and change to prison uniform. “I will tase you,” shouted the officer, who was losing patience. But, the slippery ring just complicated matters for Wakefield, a resident of Santa Monica facing charges of stabbing her boyfriend.

Being handcuffed for nearly seven hours in custody, Wakefield couldn’t move her numb fingers, while she struggled with unscrewing the silver stud from her tongue. But, in a fit of rage, the officer fired electrified darts from his Taser, which struck her chest. Unable to bear the excruciating pain, the already drained-out girl collapsed and fell on the floor, gasping for breath. Unmoved by her passionate writhing and moans, the ruthless officer punched her several times in the face. Four days later, the prison medical officer certified that she suffered from internal bleeding and had a miscarriage. Already stripped of her freedom and dignity, the loss of her unborn child left an ugly mental scar, which time can probably never erase.

There are many women as well as men languishing behind bars in American prisons, who are victims of inhuman torture, physical abuse, sexual assault and corporal punishments. Additionally, the living conditions of several jails and correctional centers are reported to be barbaric at a time when prison systems across the U.S. are supposedly modernized. In recent years, inmates have complained about poor lighting and ventilation across cells, paucity of potable water, and presence of rodents and insects in areas where food is served. And lack of access to mental health treatment seems to top the list of all concerns.

Inmates prone to mental disorders

Studies show that lack of treatment is one of the major reasons for the widespread prevalence of mental ailments such as depression, bipolar, anxiety disorders and stress in prisons nationwide. This is, in fact, one of the reasons why they are also most likely to engage in substance abuse. Therefore, the need of the hour is to ensure timely diagnosis and mental health screening facilities for all felons with heinous criminal backgrounds as they are highly vulnerable to both depression and substance abuse.

According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the U.S. incarcerates about 2.37 million people each year, earning the country the ill-repute of having the highest incarceration rate worldwide. Research suggests an average incarcerated American is more likely than the general population to experience a mental health problem, with female inmates suffering from higher rates of psychiatric disorders than their male counterparts. Additionally, frequent incidents of torture, maltreatment and abuse of basic human rights by prison authorities aggravate their existing mental condition, pushing them further into the depths of despair. In the light of the increasing incidents of human rights violations and the associated debilitating mental health outcomes being reported in the U.S. and worldwide, the Human Rights Day is observed each year on December 10 to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which encourages every individual to stand up for equality, justice and dignity in every sphere of life.

Dealing with mental health problems

Almost one in five adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million people — experiences mental illness in a given year, says the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). However, less than half of them receive treatment. Providing access to professional mental health screening, treatment and counseling should also be considered as a basic human right, which should not be denied to any citizen.

Failing mental health is a deplorable reality today, and people need to take a sensitive approach toward those battling such conditions. In the words of former U.S. President Eleanor Roosevelt and one of the most influential members of the UN Commission on Human Rights of his times, “Without concerted citizen action to uphold them (human rights) close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Mental disorders can be treated with professional help. When wondering where to start with to find help for psychological problems, one needn’t look further than Sovereign Health of San Clemente, California, which offers a variety of customized therapies to treat mental health disorders. Specialists at our world-class mental health treatment centers in California are trained to identify the underlying causes and prescribe customized treatments as well as group psychotherapy based on a patient’s requirements. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives for details.

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