Mental Health Needs of People in Detention

Course overview

This one day training is designed specifically for visitors of people being held in detention.

We consider issues that may impact on the detainees mental health and how we might recognise these. The course acknowledges the importance of individual and cultural perspectives on mental distress and explores how a visitor might be of practical and emotional help. Delegates are encouraged to consider boundary issues and how these can be safely managed. The wellbeing of the visitor as well as the detainee is an important focus of this interactive and practical workshop.

We will consider how visitors can be of practical and emotional help to detainees in distress and will tackle the difficult issue of detainees who present as a possible risk to themselves, and what can be done to assist.


Learning Objectives: by the end of this course you should be able to:

  • Identify the mental health needs of people in detention
  • Identify signs and symptoms of mental distress
  • Identify options for providing immediate help to someone in distress
  • Describe when and how to intervene supportively when someone is at risk of self-harm

Course content:

  • Introduction to the mental health needs of people in detention: research headlines
  • Understanding stressors and the impact of the environment
  • Cultural perspectives on mental distress
  • Recognising signs of distress
  • Stress and anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, psychosis and bipolar
  • Clarrifying the role of the visitor in supporting mental health of detainees
  • The boundary continuum: how to recognise and manage boundaries
  • Principles of first aid for mental distress
  • Active listening for people in distress – a refresher
  • Managing risk of harm – when and how to intervene
  • Deciding on the right plan of action
  • Looking after ourselves and colleagues


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