Telepsychology helps stressed BJMP personnel, prisoners

April 16, 2020

THE Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has opened 24/7 its telepsychology program – an approach that provides the needed psychological support not only to the BJMP personnel but also to the inmates to address stress and other pent-up emotions amid the declaration of nationwide jail lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

BJMP chief Director Allan Iral emphasized the importance of the program most especially the so-called jail frontliners for them to learn how to vent their feelings and emotions while heightening their stress tolerance with the able help of the bureau’s health practitioners.

Telepsychology is used to augment traditional in-person services being provided to BJMP personnel, rendering frontline services using telecommunication services to manage their stresses.

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, enhanced tolerance and attain tranquility or peace of mind, and able to develop healthy coping skills.

According to Dr. Irene Lim, the BJMP’s Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences Division head, mental health emergencies are similar to physical health emergencies which is why all lines are made open 24/7 for referrals and telecounseling.

“We can make use of the technology and other available resources to help our personnel and PDL (persons deprived of liberty) to cope with stress during this public health emergency because of COVID 19”, she added.

For the PDLs, the program allows them to develop a personal analysis of the impact of the COVID19 crisis, be able to regulate their own emotions to pay attention to others, reduce anxiety levels and improve sleep quality, be able to apply self-care management and maintain good psychological well-being.

Lim said it is also one of the mediums utilized to address anxieties, stresses, and other potential mental health issues among those who were newly committed to jails.

The activities included in the program are video presentations about COVID-19, 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 that their office continues to provide basic mental health services.

She also mentioned that all text messages and calls on the Helpline created will be attended to.

Iral said that after the lockdown, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) will be given to both personnel and PDL to equip them with proper management of stress and anxiety after the crisis.

"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 support we can extend to them," he added.

The BJMP manages 468 district, city, and municipal jails nationwide.