USA (MNN) — A new UK study shows worsening mental health among prisoners and prison staff as a result of the pandemic. Underfunding and overcrowding increase the risk of COVID-19 infections for both of these populations. More coronavirus coverage here.
The same problems exist in U.S. prisons, where World Missionary Press sends Scripture booklets and study guides. There’s plenty of fear and anxiety to go around, WMP’s Helen Williams says. Scripture booklets speak peace to troubled hearts and minds.
“There’s more to be afraid of if you will, and the Word gives comfort and hope and something to focus on outside of the things that they might be facing daily.”
Scripture soothes troubled souls
Mental health is an under-addressed issue in the U.S. prison system. According to recent statistics, over a third of all prisoners have a history of mental health problems. Along with medication, Christian counseling – provided by chaplains – can effectively address prisoners’ mental health issues and past traumas.
However, as described here, prison authorities deem pastoral care and similar services non-essential, so prisoners throughout the U.S. have been without these outlets since mid-March. But “paper missionaries” like World Missionary Press Scripture booklets can still get in. “We are still sending out prison material every week,” Williams says.
“In fact, we’ve had chaplains tell us that they can use all we can send them because they can’t have church services within the prisons now.”
Some prisoners correspond with WMP directly. “We get letters from prisoners every day and I read them all,” Williams says. “Some of the letters are requesting [Scripture booklets], but some of them are [saying], ‘Okay, we got this one. Do you have another one?’ and, ‘do you have one from my buddy? He speaks another language’.”
Encouraging prisoners with God’s Word through World Missionary Press is the first way to help. Connect with WMP here to underwrite printing and mailing costs. Every donated dollar supports the production process.
Prayer is the second, and most important, way to help prisoners. “What we pray for is that, as they receive the Word, that they would receive comfort and hope. I pray that they would truly feel God’s forgiveness, they would truly feel His love,” Williams says.
Pray also for prison chaplains. Pray “that they would have just what is needed and strength to continue, because it’s a hard place to share the Gospel in many ways,” Williams requests.
Header image is a representative stock photo obtained via Pixabay.