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Suicide Prevention: Our Focus on Mental Health in Correctional Facilities

As mental health awareness continues to become an increasingly important topic in society, Roadrunner Health Services is dedicated to providing the highest quality of compassionate care for those in correctional facilities. We understand the unique circumstances and challenges faced by those in these environments, which is why we have made suicide prevention services a priority. Our mission is to ensure that individuals receive the care they need to ensure their mental health and well-being during and after incarceration. In this article, we will explore our approach to suicide prevention services in New Mexico's correctional facilities.

Suicide and Mental Health in Correctional Facilities

At RHS we understand that the risk of suicide is especially high in correctional facilities. According to the Journal of the American Academy and Psychiatry of the Law, "Suicide is the third leading cause of death in U.S. prisons and the second in jails. The suicide rate in prisons ranged from 18 to 40 per 100,000 during the past three decades." Mental health is a complex issue that can be exacerbated by the prison environment. In fact, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, 43% of people in state prisons have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, and 1 in 4 people in jails are experiencing "serious psychological distress", which is well above the national average for those in non-prison populations.

We believe in providing compassionate, trauma-informed care for our patients within the secure environment of a correctional facility. In order to do this, we specially train our staff to ensure that individuals receive appropriate treatment for any underlying mental health issues that could be contributing to their risk of suicide.

How to Support Mental Health Within Correctional Facilities

The link between mental health and suicide prevention is an important one. Mental illness can be a major risk factor for suicidal behavior, and it is imperative that correctional facilities recognize this connection and take proactive steps to address it. There are numerous things that facilities can implement in order to support mental health and suicide prevention, such as:

  • Suicide-awareness training for staff
  • Psychiatric assessments and pre-screening to identify those at risk for self-harm
  • Creating treatment plans for those deemed to be at risk
  • Psychological support services to help patients process experiences and build healthy coping strategies 

Effective suicide prevention in prisons requires collaboration among administrative, custodial, and clinical staff. A mental health and psychiatric service delivery system, supported by the administration, is necessary for prevention efforts. The program should include identification, assessment, evaluation, treatment, intervention, and training for all medical, mental health, and correction staff.

Roadrunner Health Services Values

At RHS, we believe it is essential to create an environment within correctional facilities that is conducive to both physical and mental health. To this end, we work closely with facility staff to ensure inmates receive the appropriate healthcare they require. This includes providing comprehensive care for those who are at risk for self-harm and focusing on evidence-based interventions to reduce the likelihood of harm. We strive to provide quality care that focuses on both physical and mental health, in order to ensure that individuals have access to the resources they need to pursue successful lives.

Ultimately, providing a safe and supportive environment is key to suicide prevention in correctional facilities. It is essential that inmates feel they can access the resources they need to lead healthy lives during and after their incarceration. We believe that by taking a holistic approach to mental health and suicide prevention, we can create an atmosphere of acceptance, understanding, and support that will benefit both facility staff and incarcerated individuals alike.