A Philippine Human Rights NGO providing Psychosocial Services and Rehabilitation to Internally Displaced Persons and Survivors of Torture and Organized Violence.

news and events

BALAY and MMDJ5 partner to promote healthy well-being among its jail personnel and the detainees

BALAY Rehabilitation Center in partnership with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) organized a psychoeducation activity to help jail personnel manage their work-related stress and  treat better the persons detained in their facility.  A total of 30 jail officers from Metro Manila District Jail 5 (MMDJ5)  participated in two separate workshops on stress management and self-care held in Tanay, Rizal on  March 2019.

Jail Warden Alberto Tapiru headed the participants in the second sessions consist of jail personnel involved in custodial assignments, paralegal support, administration and inmates welfare officers.  They acknowledged that working in a highly stressful environment is a daunting task, and their constant exposure to risks, narratives of suffering and being in a regular state of alertness oftentimes take its toll on their emotional, psychological, and physical well being.  

Balay programme manager Lisa Ugay pointed out that distress inevitably can have a negative impact on  work performance, relationships, and functioning of the jail personnel which, if left unchecked, can make the jail officers less effective in doing their task of  humane safekeeping and upholding the rights of  persons deprived of liberty. She  said that jail officers  who are in contact with detainees who may have been tortured or ill treated by authorities or have been involved in violence against other inmates are likely to be emotionally affected by exposure to those acts of violence as well. 

“The appalling conditions inside jails and detention centers has a significant impact on the general well-being of both the jail personnel and persons deprived of liberty. Therefore, it is necessary to give due attention for the well-being of the jail guards for them to accord humane treatment to persons deprived of liberty,” said Ugay.

Ugay pointed out that the detainees are more particularly vulnerable to distress as they have to contend with  overcrowded spaces, restricted movements, and very limited access to health, sanitation, and recreational services and facilities that are common in most Philippine jails. According to her, the dire conditions of detention can have serious implications to the mental health and general well being of persons deprived of liberty; this raises a challenge on jail officers how to promote their mission of humane safekeeping under a very trying situations, she said.    

The participants and the Balay resource persons discussed practical measures on how jail officers may manage stressful situations better. They also  identified sources of strengths and resilience, and came up with suggestions on how to minimize  negative stress in their workplace.

Balay introduced to the jail officers how to perform psychological first aid for their colleagues and the detainees who might be feeling distressed or in some form of personal crisis situation. They also discussed  how the inmate welfare officers may  develop a trauma-informed psychosocial and psycho-educational support program for torture victims and the population inside the detention centers and help manage their suffering.

BALAY and BJMP have been partners for the past years in fulfilling the bureau’s mission on humane safekeeping of person’s deprived of liberty. The bureau has continuously carried their duty and aspiration to be compliant to international standards as manifested in various jail facilities around the country. BALAY and MMDJ5 agreed to continue their collaborative efforts by organizing another series of trainings on Psychosocial First Aid for inmate’s welfare and capacity development for jail personnel.

The activity is part of BALAY Rehabilitation Center’s continued effort to alleviate the suffering of torture victims and the prevention of torture and other inhumane and degrading treatment in jail facilities. The project is supported by Danish Institute Against Torture and the European Union.