Provision of counselling and rehabilitation services to female prisoners: a case study of Kampala district

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Kampala International University, College of Humanities and Social Science
Studies of incarcerated women Uganda's Prison System has found inadequate access to rehabilitative psychosocial counseling and mental health services as well as the widespread dissatisfaction with over-reliance on-psychotropic. drugs. The use of pharmaceuticals to respond to women's mental distress was perceived to be a way to cover up their problems instead of addressing them. In addition, there are concerns that it could lead to dependence and addiction. Hence, most women express a preference for counseling and 'talking therapies' rather than medication. There is also at the moment a pressing need to formulate a complete package of rehabilitative counseling services and identify a number of capable and interested rehabilitative counseling service providers to deliver a range of psychological counseling services to female prisoners in the Ugandan Prison System at this point in time when they need them most. Data processing and analysis was done with the help of tables, frequencies, and percentage for both qualitative and quantitative data. Which were mainly . · questionnaires, focus group discussions, observations, existing records/ documents, and interviews were used. Major findings revealed that while currently there is a limited availability counseling service to women in the public sphere outside of the Prison System] in special circumstances, no such services are provided for imp1isoned women in the Uganda Prison System to cope with the crises which arise while they ar·e in detention and which threaten their mental health. Detained women within the Uganda Prison System expressed a marked preference for a - .more proactive approach, so that they could access counseling at an earlier stage in the stress cycle and prevent the exacerbation of their mental and emotional distress. The importance of self-help or peer-support groups should also be mentioned. However, such groups are at present mainly organized and run through NGOs and/or community groups, as in the case of lone mothers, survivors of adult and childhood sexual violence, women affected by eating disorders, or lesbian women. As a consequence, their funding is often precarious. Finally, in relation to counseling therapies, equitable availability should be implemented. These treatments are often expensive,. and women on low incomes cannot afford them. Therefore, access to them should be f~cilitated through innovative contracting mechanisms, which would allow psychosocial therapists and GPs to prescribe them to their clients instead or alongside traditional medication.
A research dissertation submitted to College of Humanities and Social Science in part1al fulfilment of the requirements for the Award of a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Social Administration of Kampala International University
counselling, rehabilitation