Local sheriff and health experts worry COVID isolation compounding inmate mental health issues

Coronavirus

The Trumbull County Sheriff's Office is concerned about the wellbeing of their inmates

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – During the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve talked about mental health and making sure you’re taking care of yourself if you feel isolated, but some working inside jails and prisons say more can be done for inmates with the same struggles.

The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office is concerned about the wellbeing of their inmates after another behavioral situation sent an inmate to the hospital on Thursday.

While some of these situations may not be the result of underlying mental health issues, Major Daniel Mason knows that many are. He says it seems like jails have become more overcrowded with people suffering from mental illness.

“We send a lot of inmates up for evaluation who are actually mentally ill, but unless they’re schizophrenic or delusional, speaking out that they hear voices from demons or persecuted or something like that, hospitals won’t keep them,” Mason said.

Out of about 200,000 Trumbull County residents, only seven are treated right now in a state mental hospital. This number can include inmates.

April Caraway is the executive director for the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board.
She says the isolation from COVID-19 procedures in jails and prisons is not helping.

“We have more inmates in the jail with mental health and addiction issues than ever before,” Caraway said. “That isolation that people experience if they’ve already had an underlying mental health condition makes their mental health worse.”

The Mental Health and Recovery Board does have a counselor that works in the jail, and they make treatment available when inmates are released.

“We do have group homes and recovery homes and have some private psychiatric units on the outside but just not enough,” Caraway said.

Major Mason says that his officers do a great job, but at the end of the day, they aren’t the people who can properly care for inmates with mental health needs.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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