Many people who are serving prison sentences suffer with mental health conditions. Trevor is 21 years old and serving a three-year sentence for burglary. In prison he became increasingly anxious, thinking something bad was going to happen to him.
When anxious, Trevor would stutter, sweat excessively and have difficulty sleeping. As a way of coping with his anxiety Trevor shut himself away from the rest of prison, avoiding education, the gym, association and phone calls home. During his initial assessment with Thinkaction, we set goals for Trevor designed to help him engage more in activities and feel comfortable in other prisoners’ company.
At his first treatment session we talked about the vicious cycle of anxiety and how cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) could help. Trevor found this useful and he began to understand the reasons behind why he was feeling anxious. Following the session, Trevor’s mood improved; he said just talking about his anxiety helped a great deal and he started to visit education again.
During the second treatment session Trevor said that he was continuing to push himself to socialise more with other prisoners and had started attending association. We also discussed the idea of exposure therapy and how avoidance can make anxiety worse.
By his third session, Trevor was feeling much better. Talking through his anxieties had a real impact on how he thought about the spaces outside of his cell. We introduced relaxation techniques to manage his anxiety such as controlled breathing, positive self-talk, progressive muscle relaxation and shifting his focus of attention. Trevor found these new techniques extremely helpful and continues to use them.
After the fourth session, Trevor and his counsellor decided his treatment was complete. Trevor had met his goal to engage more in activities and to feel comfortable in other prisoners’ company. He completed an English course and set new goals to contact his father and get a job inside the prison. Crucially for Trevor’s future, he now felt confident enough to achieve these goals on his own.