Unfortunately, two of the largest mental health providers in the country today are Cook County and Los Angeles County jails. Between two and four hundred thousand or more persons with mental illness are confined in U.S. jails and prisons. On October 26, 2013 at SARDAA’s second annual conference, Larry Ackerman talked about how individuals and their loved ones can cope during incarceration. He also told us that many churches have programs that help people who are in jail, and that you can help by volunteering with them. You can also be a pen-pal to prisoners. The mentally ill are very isolated and lonely in jail–often living in solitary confinement for years–and talking to people who care dramatically improves their mental health. Tips on writing a letter to a prisoner
Larry Ackerman is the Office and Consumer Programs Coordinator for NAMI Michigan. Mr. Ackerman lives with a schizophrenia-related disorder and has been in treatment since 1977—thirty-five years. Larry endured the ravages of the older generation anti-psychotic medications for thirteen years and was unable to work until the newer medications emerged and he was able to live a more productive life. He studied counseling in graduate school, lectured in psychopathology, counseled men in domestic violence classes, lectured regarding the Recovery Paradigm and earned a 3.81 Grade Point Average. He is an outstanding national speaker, advocate for the psychiatrically ill, especially for the imprisoned, an author and artist. Certified Peer Support Specialist.