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“Mental Health on Young Prisoners” consultative workshop was jointly hosted by Caritas Cambodia and the General Department of Prison
 
The consultative workshop on “Mental Health on Young Prisoners” brought together the directors, deputy directors and key officials from the 24 prisons and 4 correctional centers throughout Cambodia to understand the situation of mental health of young prisoners and the need for mental health services in the prisons. The workshop also aims to outline the plan to integrate mental health component in the on-going prison health program. Under the collaboration with the General Department of Prison, Caritas Cambodia implemented by the Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health program (CCAMH) jointly launched the first –ever workshop on “Mental Health on Young Prisoners” on 17th March 2016 at Caritas Cambodia office in Phnom Penh.
Caritas Cambodia Executive Director, Mr. Kim Rattana gave a welcoming remark. He said Caritas Cambodia is working in the prisons in Cambodia for the past many years, mainly among persons suffering from HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB). “We are committed to continue working in the area of general health and mental health care for the prisoners. Prison is not their last life but it is a hopeful place to make a better life for them”, said Mr. Rattana. He thanked the General Department of Prison, especially the Ministry of Interior for their tremendous support. Without good collaboration, the prison health project would not have been implemented, he added.  He also highlighted good collaboration with the Senate,
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Mr. Kim Rattana, Caritas Cambodia Executive Director is opening a welcome remark and thanking good collaboration with the General Department of Prison
National Assembly and various government Ministries on a number of areas such as rural development, agriculture, environment, health and other social development issues.

Mental health problem is very important for every individual, family and society at large. Based on the data from the General Department of Prison in 2012, in Cambodia, 30 percent of inmates are young people below 25 years old. Another report carried out by a local NGO called LICADHO at the same year, highlighted a high increase in the number of young inmates detained on drug-related charges in Cambodia. It is, therefore, Caritas Cambodia sees the essentiality to top up mental health component in the prisons where Caritas Cambodia is working in order to help young people addicted to drugs, as well as to prevent recidivism, -that is returning back to prison for similar offenses. Furthermore, Caritas Cambodia with its committed staff and with years of working experience in the prisons can demonstrate a model mental health program that can be scaled-up nationwide. This model program will raise the image of Cambodia among ASEAN countries as there is no such program in other ASEAN member countries to our knowledge.
From the program perspective, Dr. J. Bhoomikumar, the Director and Consultant Child Psychiatrist of Caritas’s CCAMH program explained that in order to identify how the pilot program on mental health in the prisons should be look like, it is important to note down all the feedback and experiences from participants on key mental health problems in the prisons. This is how crucial to bring all participants to the workshop, he said.

Among participants, it is widely accepted that the mental health in prisons especially for young prisoners is deserved to be given as one of the priority area.
 
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Dr. J. Bhoomikumar, the Director and Consultant Child Psychiatrist of Caritas’s CCAMH program is sharing some key learning points on mental health care in the prison
Mrs. Heng Sou Leap, the deputy director of Palin prison told that she was happy to gain knowledge and broader picture of mental health problem. “When I return, I am committed to support prisoners especially with more counseling”, Sou Leap told.

Another deputy director of Preah Sihanouk provincial prison, Mr. Heang Nimol said it was the first time for him to participate in this type of workshop. He wished to have the mental health program in Preah Sihanouk prison. Compare to other prisons in the country, Preah Sihanouk provincial prison has high number of prisoners. According to Mr. Heang Nimol, there are 496 prisoners, 40 of which are female. Some research found that overcrowded prison is one of the major factors that cause stress and suffering, leading to psychological stress.

Her Excellency, Nhem Aun, the Deputy Director of the General Department of Prison was presided over the workshop.
 
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Participants are sharing experiences from their respective prisons
In the name of the Ministry of Interior, the General Department of Prison was grateful to the initiative project on mental health in the prisons. She appreciated a long-standing and good collaboration and pleased to continue working with Caritas Cambodia in healthcare and mental health problem in the prisons. She hoped that the workshop will lead to some practical actions in which all participants will bring the knowledge and key learning points back to their work in order to promote the well-being and mental health of the prisoners in their respective prisons and correctional centers.

The workshop concluded with a very active discussion and varied activities such as group discussion, sharing
 
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Her Excellency, Nhem Aun, the Deputy Director of the General Department of Prison is addressing her closing remark and confirming continued partnership and collaboration with Caritas Cambodia
session, and insights through role play and video show, in which all the participants were able to discuss and comment on various issues related to mental health problem.
 
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Group photo during the workshop on “Mental Health on Young Prisoners” at Caritas Cambodia office on 17TH March 2016
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In order to provide a broader knowledge and understanding on mental health issues, some activities of sharing experiences, group discussion, role play and video show were designed to facilitate key learning for participants
 
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