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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Being under community supervision takes a toll on individuals, as many need more assistance in creating a stable and supporting lifestyle once released. In the previous blog, we talked about how the use of cognitive behavioral therapy is making positive differences in lives. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), focuses on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. CBT is used to uncover unhealthy patterns of thought and how they may be causing self-destructive behaviors and beliefs. By addressing these issues, constructive ways of thinking can be developed to produce healthier behaviors and attitudes on life and goals. 

CBT allows for the ability to get to the root of a problem and identify why one might behave or act the way they do. Our behavioral health specialist, Lacey Berumen PhD, MNM, LAC, MAC, ADS, has over 20 years of behavioral health experience. She has provided an example of one of countless scenarios where CBT can be deployed to benefit supervisors helping their clients and their clients themselves: 

CBT can be used with clients simply by asking them to think through the situation to the end and decide whether this will be a positive outcome or if this will have negative connotations. For instance, Joe arrives to his office late and frustrated as the bus schedule at his nearby stop has changed. This situation has resulted in his boss being mad at him. Joe is told to think through the situation and how he is feeling by asking some questions. Is it reasonable that a boss would be upset if an employee was late to work? If so, how might Joe turn this into a positive outcome? Upon finding out the bus schedule has changed, Joe could call the employer and let him know he will be late. Joe could look at other bus schedules that will get him to work another way and on time. Joe may be new to riding the bus so he may need assistance from his supervisor to solve this dilemma.

TRACKtech has extensive capabilities that allow for an individual to access necessary, helpful, and local resources. If Joe was using a TRACKphone, he could have the regional bus website or app quickly available to him. TRACKphone allows the client to have access to useful resources and programs to overcome situations and reach out for help to their supervisors. TRACKcase allows supervisors to have easier contact with clients and provides the ability to check in with them, helping solve crisis through video conferencing, messaging and deploying the use of CBT. This can help alleviate and solve stressful situations that impact clients lives. TRACKtech solutions offer comprehensive rehabilitation and compliance monitoring capabilities to enhance communication, monitor risks and provide an approach to enhance recovery and support reentry requirements. Getting to the root of the problem and keeping people on track is possible with the right tools, including the use of CBT.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Many individuals struggle with mental health issues, whether they are minor or major. During times like COVID-19, many struggle even more so than usual as they are isolated in their homes and from family and friends. As a probation and parole officer, staying in touch with clients and providing resources for them to overcome these obstacles can prove to be challenging, while helping to maintain stable mental health.

One approach that has seen positive change is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), focuses on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. CBT is used to uncover unhealthy patterns of thought and how they may be causing self-destructive behaviors and beliefs. By addressing these issues, constructive ways of thinking can be developed to produce healthier behaviors and attitudes on life and goals. The American Psychological Association highlights that CBT is based on core principles of psychological problems involving faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking, learned patterns or unhelpful behavior, and those suffering to learn better ways of coping with them, relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives. 

There are a variety of CBT treatments that involve different strategies. One is learning to recognize one’s distortions in thinking, which is creating problems, and then to reevaluate them to change these distortions. Others are gaining a better understanding of the behavior and motivation of others, using problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations and learning to develop a greater sense of confidence in one’s own abilities. CBT is about changing behavioral patterns and helping your client recognize them and the factors that drive their criminogenic needs. 

More therapists and supervisors are supporting that cognitive behavioral therapy is proving to make a difference in the lives of those being supervised by helping establish what factors might be behind their need to commit crimes. Studies of CBT have shown it to be an effective treatment for a wide variety of mental illnesses and to keep individuals on their path to rehabilitation into society. 

TRACKtech has created and developed an evidence-based, data-driven, mobile platform that offers comprehensive rehabilitation and compliance monitoring capabilities. Our solution enhances communication, monitors risks and provides an approach to enhance recovery and support reentry requirements within the criminal justice industry. Behavioral health assessments and resources are available for those being supervised through TRACKphone and TRACKphoneLite. They allow supervisors to be in contact with clients through check ins and video conferencing to establish a connection and support system. With the assessment results, CBT can be deployed through video conferencing to help the client with life problems and help get to the root cause of their criminogenic needs.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) put together a presentation on the use of Behavioral Health Applications. It is estimated that there are currently over 10,000 mental health related applications that people can download and make use of. However, not all are reliable or trustworthy when it comes to supporting people. Many lack guidance from the FDA and are not HIPAA compliant. Because of this, a high percentage of the applications expose or sell personal health data that they receive through the app’s users. This data is taken with or without the consent of users and sold to third parties. In an analysis study done by Patsakis C. Security and Privacy, only 50% of apps shared data securely and 80% shared health-related data to third parties. As well as sharing private data, many applications are not tightly regulated and make false claims about their effectiveness. This affects all people relying on them to have resources and a network to turn to when struggling with mental health stability, especially during these  pandemic winter months.

NAMI provided assessment criteria that we at TRACKtech find compelling and informative when seeking a behavioral health application. The top five priorities to keep in mind when looking for behavioral health applications are security, privacy, effectiveness, usability and data sharing with external parties related to you such as physicians or family members. We also personally recommend that the application is user friendly and easy to navigate. This allows for you to browse and customize all resources to best suit you, as well as ensuring the application is engaging and providing for your necessities. Additionally, make sure it is HIPAA compliant and stores data securely to avoid using one that is seeking to make a profit by selling user data.

An additional resource funded by the Argosy Foundation is https://apps.digitalpsych.org/, which provides a customizable search engine for applications related to behavioral health. Individual preferences and your values are important when looking for an application to trust and use every day. We trust this resource to provide engaging and effective mental health resources for people to use every day. Remember – you are not alone.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Many jail populations increase due to drug offenses, a common felony that is seen to also cause recidivism. According to an article published by WMUR 9, The Valley Street Jail in Manchester, New Hampshire has seen a decrease in drug offenses due to a new treatment program being implemented in the facility. They are trying to help people struggling with addiction problems in the hopes of keeping them out of jail and sober. Many people who have substance abuse disorders go to jail or prison, often more than once. Because of this, the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections is teaching people how to stay sober in the hopes of giving them a second chance and not returning to jail.

This program started two years ago. Over a period of 60 days, inmates go through a treatment program that is five days a week and runs all day. They have the opportunity to be in a learning environment where they are taught about recovery and given messages of hope. The program strives to reintegrate the inmates back into society and reestablish a stable and safe environment for them, by helping them find employment and insurance. Once inmates complete the program, they are placed on an electronic monitoring device to ensure that they stay sober and on track once they are back in society. The program has seen promising results as only 32% are repeat offenders and are involved in recidivism. However, every year they have reported recidivism rates decreasing. The program hopes to reduce and break the cycle of addiction to help inmates start over.

TRACKtech, LLC was created to reduce recidivism rates by reintegrating inmates back into society through a network of support from their supervisors and outside resources. The TRACKphone provides access to outside resources and allows for supervisors to check in remotely with their program members through biometric identification and video conferencing, as well as be in constant communication. The supervisor and program member can establish a relationship in which the program member feels supported and has the tools to become a functioning member of society again, all while staying sober.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

A 2019 article published by Gallup highlights the struggles of substance abuse for Americans. According to the article, “close to half of U.S. adults, 46% have dealt with substance abuse problems in their families.” Broken down, 18% of this 46% have just alcohol related abuse issues, 10% have drug related abuse and 18% have experienced both alcohol and drug problems. The survey given reported that 36% of Americans have had alcohol and drug abuse cause issues in their families and affect their lives. There were also alarming conclusions that the percentage of users affected by these numbers are under the age of 55 and have higher rates of alcohol abuse and drug abuse than those over the age of 55, which is what would have been expected given that adults in these ages are more likely to abuse substances.

The article also touched on who was more likely to report family problems due to these issues. Women were more likely than men to report drug problems, but adults without college degrees, 39%, were more likely to report family drinking problems than those with a degree. Religion also was mentioned as an influence on whether or not people suffer from problems with drinking and drugs. Those who rarely attend religious services had higher rates of family problems due to these substance abuses. As time goes on, there are more reported drinking problems higher than any other decades now, which has now reached 36%. These drug and abuse problems are affecting families country wide and causing issues that are inflicting damage in families.

Individuals who are behind bars and struggling with a substance abuse add more stress to their families. They are already away from them and then they still suffer from substance use, putting even more pressure on themselves and their families. In the criminal justice system, many inmates do not get the proper care or programming they need to overcome substance abuse. More programs should be made available in prisons to help them overcome addiction and start over. It will reduce recidivism rates and help keep families together.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Mental health and well-being are important for all individuals to remember. Taking care of yourself is the first step when it comes to taking care of others. You will only get so far in helping others without having the right mindset for yourself.

In the criminal justice field especially, remembering to look after yourself is a top priority so that you are able to help your clients. Being a community corrections officer proves difficult due to the number of caseloads and individuals they are responsible for, as well as the high-pressure workspace they work in. You are responsible for keeping individuals in compliance and the public safe, which can bring about a lot of stress and fatigue. Your well-being can be put on hold while working a difficult job, but it should never be suppressed.

Some recommendations for taking care of yourself are as follows from SAMHSA:

  • Be physically active
  • Sleep and eat well
  • Avoid increasing alcohol and drug use
  • Stay in contact with loved ones
  • Turn to colleagues for support
  • Meditate
  • Try breathing exercises
  • Seek sources of humor
  • Journaling or drawing
  • Participate in spiritual practices

There are many more tips that SAMHSA recommends that can be found in the article above.

Work burnout is more prevalent than ever, as technology brings many benefits but also drawbacks as people always have to be available, even at home. Distinction between home and work life balance are becoming blurred, especially during COVID-19. Read more about work burnout and understanding how to balance this issue between work and life. It is important to support and take time for yourself. Well-being of individuals in the criminal justice field is especially key because if they do not take care of themselves, then they cannot take care of and help others.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Michigan State University elaborates in an article on how the national Stepping Up Initiative is helping to reduce the number of people in jails that are suffering from mental illnesses. The Stepping Up Initiative is led by the Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties and the American Psychiatric Foundation. It was created to help counties redirect individuals with mental illnesses to treatment centers to receive the care they need and reduce jail populations. Currently, more than 500 counties in 43 states are part of the initiative. It is working to keep individuals with mental illnesses out of the justice system and provide them with the help they need.

A professor and her colleague at Michigan State University have been awarded a grant to study how the Stepping Up Initiative works and to determine what techniques can be used for treatment for individuals who suffer from mental illnesses. “Our primary goal is to learn more about how county agencies can work together to reduce the number of mentally ill people in county jails,” said Jennifer Johnson, a C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health at MSU College of Human Medicine.

Around two-thirds of jail populations have mental health problems and around three-quarters of them also suffer from substance abuse addictions. However, most jails are not equipped with the proper programs or treatment plans to treat those suffering from mental illnesses, as many of these individuals should not be in jail but rather mental health facilities. These individuals find themselves in jail after going off of their medication and acting erratically, leading to arrest. It creates a cycle of individuals being brought in while suffering from mental health issues, being put back on the street and then acting up or committing a crime, landing them back in jail again. This is where Stepping Up comes into play by helping jails find the right fit and facility for those suffering or in need of a mental health facility. This ultimately reduces overcrowding in jails and places people in correct facilities, where they can be treated in the hopes of helping keep them out of jail.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) published an article about how a Telehealth Program could improve outcomes for drug addicted, justice-involved women. The first few days following the release of incarcerated individuals is very difficult and puts them at  high risk for opioid use. In the hopes of preventing relapse and overdosing, researchers have been testing ways to connect inmates with community-based treatment and support programs before they are released. This research project is called the Women’s Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (WJCOIN), which is supported by the Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative (NIH HEAL Initiative). They have been testing videoconferencing-based telehealth solutions as a solution to expand evidence-based practices involved in treating addiction. This battles against the justice system and helps respond to the opioid crisis. This telehealth approach is seeking to understand what works best for real women in life situations.

The project is being launched in 18 states and Puerto Rico to test strategies to expand effective treatment for people with opioid use disorders. The initiative has partnered with local and state justice systems and community-based treatment providers to create the best outcome for people with substance abuse disorders.It is estimated that one half of people in the country’s jails and prisons suffer from a substance use disorder but very few receive the treatment they need. Narrowed down, women in particular face high barriers when it comes to having access to treatment and continuing it after being released. They also suffer from a higher rate for opioid overdose compared to men. Because of this, the five-year WJCOIN study will aim to enroll 900 incarcerated women with opioid addiction problems at nine state jails who are within 30 days of being released to use telehealth to link them to community treatment providers.

Collaboration between Department of Corrections (DOC) and Behavioral Health Treatment Centers is key to helping women have access to recovery programs and getting them on the right track after being released. Many suffer from opioid addictions and never fully recover, ending up back in jail. The Telehealth Program hopes to reduce recidivism and help individuals, specifically women, get back on track to living a sober and healthy life.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

The coronavirus crisis has already taken a toll on an individual’s mental health and addictions. While being self-quarantined, we encourage you to stick to your recovery plan with the help of online resources, including the following.

RECOVERY DHARMA ONLINE – https://recoverydharma.online/
Recovery Dharma Online organizes daily meetings accessible via computer, smartphone, or dial-in. Together we meditate, study Buddhist teachings, and support each other on our paths to sobriety and peace.

SOBER RECOVERY FORUMS – https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/
Your guide to alcoholism drug addictions help and information. SoberRecovery.com is a community of over 168,000 recovering alcoholics, recovering addicts, recovering co-dependents and their friends, family and loved ones.

IN THE ROOMS – https://www.intherooms.com/home/live-meetings/
In The Rooms hosts over 130 live video meetings every week for AA, NA, SAA, CPA, ACA and CODA.

ANXIETY – 7 science-based strategies to cope with coronavirus anxiety.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – Create a safety plan.

COVID-19 RESOURCE CENTER
John Hopkins University has a COVID-19 Resource Center to help answer all your coronavirus questions.

What is Social Distancing and How Can it Slow the Spread of COVID-19

The Best Ways to Protect Yourself

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States (46.6 million) suffer from a mental illness in a given year. In the jail population, this is even more prevalent, as these people are not receiving the care they need. There is an estimated 2 million mentally ill individuals being booked into jails each year. The jail population is five times more likely than the general population to experience a serious mental illness and eight times more likely to suffer from substance abuse. A staggering 68% of the jail population has a diagnosable substance abuse disorder, however many of them do not receive the proper treatment they require. 

Jails are not conducive to treating these serious illnesses and addictions. Within two weeks after being released, those with serious substance abuse are 40 times more likely to die from an overdose than those in the general population. Instead of incarcerating these people struggling with mental health and substance abuse disorders, public health options should be available for adequate treatment. Evidence-based substance abuse treatment and medical care has been proven to prevent criminal justice involvement at all. Access to essential treatment for substance abuse has been proven to reduce violent and financially motivated crimes.

Many reforms are being implemented by counties across the country to ensure that those with substance abuse disorders and mental health illnesses are provided proper care and preventative programs. Crisis intervention teams are programs that are designed to divert those with mental illnesses from the criminal justice system and into proper treatment. A group of police officers partake in special health training in order to properly evaluate the signs of a mental illness, treat the individual, and deescalate situations. This program is proving to be very effective in helping those with mental health disorders to receive treatment rather than jail time. Police mental health co-responder teams are also proving to be effective. Rather than the police being specifically trained, mental health professionals assist the police while they are interacting with someone showing signs of a mental health crisis. 

There is also the option to establish mental health and drug courts that can serve as an alternative to incarceration. Multidisciplinary teams of judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, social workers, and professional mental health service providers work together in specialized courts to assist individuals in treatment and connect them with the proper services.

TRACKtech can provide individuals dealing with substance abuse and mental illness in a multitude of ways. There is an array of behavioral assessments available through the TRACKphoneLite app and the TRACKphone, and rehabilitative support can be specifically targeted to best suit the program member. The program member can also be assisted in finding local community support groups or rehabilitative services. By utilizing this automated rehabilitation platform, therapy expenses can be reduced by nearly 50%. 

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