By Chito A. Chavez
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) said on Wednesday it has further strengthened its “telepsychology’’ services to provide the psychological support for the jail’s personnel and persons deprived of liberty (PDL) with the nationwide jail lockdown strictly imposed in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19.
BJMP spokesperson and chief inspector Xavier Solda explained that “telepsychology is used to augment traditional in-person services being provided to BJMP personnel, rendering frontline services using telecommunication services to manage their stresses’’.
He noted that it is a psychological intervention program developed to help personnel release pent-up feelings and emotions to have an enhanced capacity to cope with stress. The service is designed to help personnel improve tolerance, attain tranquility or peace of mind, and develop healthy coping skills.
As for the PDL, Solda said the program allows them to develop a personal analysis of the impact of the COVID19 crisis to be able to regulate their own emotions, pay attention to others, reduce anxiety levels, improve sleep quality, apply self-care management, and maintain good psychological well-being.
It is also one of the mediums utilized to address anxieties, stresses, and other potential mental health issues among those who were newly committed in jails.
“Some of the mental health practitioners who are non-uniformed personnel are on a work from home status, unable to attend physically to our clients. But, that does not mean there will be no other alternatives in delivering mental health services to our colleagues and PDL clients,” said BJMP Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences Division head Dr. Irene S Lim.
“We can make use of the technology and other available resources to help our personnel and PDL cope with stress during this public health emergency,” she added.
Lim also reiterated that mental health emergencies are similar to physical health emergencies; that is why their lines are open 24/7 for referrals and telecounseling.
The activities included in the program are video presentations about COVID19, stress management, cinema therapy, mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, information drives, and consultation through telepsychology.
Erna Compuesto, a psychologist and registered Psychometrician of the BJMP, said their office continues to provide basic mental health services.
She added that all text messages and calls on the helpline created will be received by the psychologist of the Directorate for Health Service..”
The regional psychologists and psychometricians attend to the chats, messages, and electronic mails.
At the same time, the intervention programs for the PDL are conducted at their respective jail units under the supervision of the welfare and development officers.
After the lockdown, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) will be facilitated to both personnel and PDL to equip them with proper post-crisis management of stress and anxiety.
BJMP chief jail director Allan Iral lauded the efforts of the mental health practitioners of the agency.
“It is important for our frontliners to learn how to vent out their feelings and emotions while heightening their stress tolerance with the help of our health practitioners,” Iral said.
“We appreciate the fact that they are doing a great job in our jail units and it is but proper for us to extend all the kind of support we can extend to them,” he added.
The BJMP manages 468 district, city, and municipal jails nationwide.