(Berlin, NH) New Hampshire Department of Corrections Commissioner William L. Wrenn announced that a housing block at the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility has been designated as a mental health-clinical wellness unit capable of providing case-specific treatment and support for sixty-eight inmates.
“This mental health block was established using existing resources and allows offenders to take advantage of services while adhering to the Department’s stringent security and classification policies,” Commissioner Wrenn said.
Each offender will have an active treatment plan with a housing objective. They must be considered severe and persistently mentally ill or hold an axis one diagnosis. Participants cannot be chronic enough for placement in the Secure Psychiatric Unit or Residential Treatment Unit in Concord but struggle to adjust in the general population.
The mental health staff check in with the offenders in the morning to plan out the day and again in the evening to review life skills. The inmates are offered two evidence-based group sessions covering such topics as coping skills, behavior modification, co-existing, and other workshops to address negative thinking patterns. Psychiatric medications will be provided as recommended. A Licensed Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselor (LADAC) offers a weekly group on addictions and recovery. Each participant signs a personal wellness contract and agrees to participate in these services.
“Thirty-eight percent of the inmates in Berlin currently receive mental health services and by combining individuals who receive support in one location, it allows us to increase services for and contact with those with mental illness,” Commissioner Wrenn said.
The new block was established in January 2011 and to date there has been one hundred percent attendance compliance with the groups that have been offered.