Toxic Masculinity as a Barrier to Mental Health Treatment in Prisons This study emphasizes the fact that lives of prisoners are an understudied phenomenon in society. Researchers found that access into prisons for conducting personal interviews were difficult due to the increase of prison population over the past three decades.
Researchers also realized that prisoners who were incarcerated or released preferred not to discuss their experiences behind bars for their personal safety and well-being. In the United Sates, prisons occupy over two million inmates in which ninety percent are males.Majority of male prisoners are from low income communities and are persons of color. Since many inmates are also suffering from mental illness or need treatment for rehabilitation, mental health services in prisons are now in demand.
By understanding needs of incarcerated men, researchers can collect data about gendered behavior such as masculinity in the prison setting as well as gender dynamics. As a result, this article explains how toxic masculinity creates obstacles for prisoners when it comes to mental health treatments in men’s prisons.Toxic masculinity consists of regressive male traits that focus on domination, degrading of women, homophobia, and violence. This is usually seen when inmates get involved with physical fights against other prisoners or officers as well as prison rape or other violent interactions. Obviously this does not represent all prisoners because some of them do not fit the description of toxic masculinity. Since these characteristics of toxic masculinity are essential in the prison environment, male inmates are more resistant to receive psychotherapy from correctional institutions because it makes them look weak and emotional in front of others.There are many reasons why prisoners choose not to get help from therapists. First of all, there is a huge shortage of mental health services in prisons because researchers discovered that most inmates continue to have emotional issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence, sex offenses, and impulse control that need to be addressed.
A reason for this shortage is because resources that were used to guide these mental health services were no longer relevant to the growing prisons population, which is why prisons must expand their resources to better fit their prisoners today.Prison officials justify this concern by claiming that they don’t have enough money in the mental health budget. In that event, services are rendered to those who have serious cases that include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and suicidal attempts. Since treatment is mandatory for some by the sentencing court, prisons also offer group treatments. Unfortunately, limitations of these services result in few that continue to not receive help, which may explain the reoccurrence of crime from those who are released. Undergoing professional treatment in prisons should reduce crime once inmates are released, not increase it.In this sense, inmates realize that no one cares about their issue, leading them to feel disrespected and alone throughout this whole process. Another reason why prisoners are hesitant in complying with therapists is due to the lack of confidentiality when conducting discussions.
This is because sessions are held in places where other inmates and officers can clearly hear every detail being addressed. Many correctional systems in America require mental health staff members to report any illegal action or potential threat to the security of the prison mentioned by prisoners, which produces a huge concern of safety for them.The example in this study expresses that if a man is threatened by another male inmate, he is not supposed to discuss this with the psychotherapist at all. Since the therapist has no choice but to report this to higher officials, they begin asking the prisoner questions regarding the other inmate’s threats. Prisoners automatically know that consequences of snitching can result in severe injury or even death from another inmate, which demonstrates why they have a hard time discussing their everyday issues in an openly manner.Moreover, laws are now stating that anything a prisoner says to a therapist can eventually be used against them in future prosecutions.
No wonder why these inmates learn to keep their mouth shut because the end results work against them rather than helping them. To conclude, lack of mental health services and dilemmas regarding confidentiality definitely play a key role in creating obstacles to effective treatments. Prisons have taught men to uphold that domination of others due to competition, greed, inability to nurture, and readiness to violence by obtaining one important thing, respect.Repeated frustrations of an inmate’s need to be respected can lead to toxicity such as violence in the prison atmosphere.
Men who act in this behavior tend to portray a tough- guy image by acting out on anger impulses in front of other inmates, allowing them to witness this image of control. In contrast, not all inmates portray this tough guy act, since most of them were convicted for minor crimes such as drug dealing. Yet, they are still aware of the fact that toughness is the key to survival in prisons no matter what anyone says. Otherwise, predators can easily pin point their targets, knowing that they will not put up a fight.Sadly, this training of domination does not benefit prisoners into becoming loving people as they are released, which shows that this learned behavior in prison is slowly spreading its wings to society. This explains why young males turn to crime and violence in order to prove their manliness to others.
Studies showed that middle class males were engaged in illegal activities for only a short period of time. As time passed, they moved on to be socially accepted by graduating from college, starting a career, and eventually supporting a family.On the other hand, lower class males were more likely to stay in criminal behavior, forcing them to go behind bars.
Even though toxic masculinity increases resistance to psychotherapy and other forms of mental health treatment from inmates, there are general steps clinicians can take to reduce this dilemma from occurring in prisons. The first step this article states is that therapists should respect the prisoner by understanding their resistance to speak. Generally, they do this by not pressuring the inmate to talk about certain things that make them feel uncomfortable. Secondly, a brief discussion about confidentiality should take place.Since many clinicians are required to report any illegal activity or threats said by the prisoner, they should notify the prisoner of this policy in advance.
That way, the prisoner is well aware of the circumstances once he begins talking. As a result of this, prisoners may begin to feel respected by the therapist due to their informative gesture. Thirdly, it is important for the clinician to negotiate with the prisoner in order to lend some kind of assistance through treatment. This allows both parties to safely communicate about things that may not be so confidential yet beneficial to proper treatment.This shows the prisoner that the therapist can still help in a limited amount of ways.
Lastly, mental health staff members should be willing to stand up to security or administration for the rights or treatment needs of prisoners. By doing this within the ethical requirements of their profession, prisoners will notice the therapist’s sincere concern over the injustice that was committed towards them, which my ease the tension of resistances to treatment. In order to make use of these guidelines, legislators and departments of corrections must enforce these steps on a regular basis.This can be very difficult because the current tendency is to increase harsher punishment among prisoners. By inflicting more punishment, correctional officers feel that this is the best way to control violent inmates. Researchers truly believe that if group work and psychotherapy is practiced in prisons, it can lead therapists to understand and eliminate the resistance of effective treatment among the prison population.
The more communication that exist in prisons, the better chance of understanding and trust given by inmates.