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Politics & Government

Mental Health First Aid Training Part Of Department Of Corrections Changes

Following a March 2013 lawsuit from the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania concerning the treatment of inmates diagnosed with serious mental illness, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has made a number of changes in their services.

Among them, the DOC has established a psychology office, trained inmates to be certified peer-support specialists, employed a mental health advocate and trained all 15,000 employees of their employees in Mental Health First Aid.

All new employees will receive the training as well.

Mental Health First Aid is similar to traditional First Aid or CPR in that it's delivered to a person who is in in a crisis situation until other treatment is delivered.

The training was eight hours, in which they learned to assess a situation, decide on the right way to intervene and secure the appropriate care.

“We constantly evaluate our inmate population and of course we see the relatively significant number of individuals in our system that have mental illness, and it's definitely something that we needed to do,” said Sue McNaughton, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

There are approximately 50,000 state prison inmates and 12,000 have some sort of mental health need.