Numerous changes in the mental health care system over the past several decades, including budget reductions, have led to increasing numbers of individuals with mental health concerns presenting with care needs in our state jails and prisons.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School has found that one in three inmates may have a mental illness. More importantly, many do not start to receive initial care for their illness until they are incarcerated.

Within the Connecticut Department of Correction, mental health staff members are devoted, caring, compassionate individuals who strive to look at the inmate in a holistic manner.

At DOC, we work together with multiple disciplines in medical and custody to provide proactive clinical strategies to assess individuals coming into our prisons who are having their initial psychiatric illness. Staff members include social workers, professional counselors, psychologists, mental health nurses, recreational therapists, nurse practitioners and psychiatrists that are passionate about working and caring four our patients.

Until the overarching mental health care system catches up to provide this critical work within the community, our staff will continue to serve our patients in our DOC system to the best of our abilities with the resources and funding available.

Michael Sussal is a clinical social worker at the Connecticut Department of Correction. 

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