By: Assistant Superintendent Munandalu Monze
The impact of Prison/Correctional work on the lives of Officers and their relations outside work has if not, entirely been sidelined from the Sociology and Psychology of Prison/Correctional Centers.
A great deal has been published and is actually known about the impact of Prison life on inmates while the emotional and psychological adjustments of the Officer remains unchecked.
Little is known about it, the inside mental conflicts and tension of switching from the sad realities behind the walls to the happy family life at home.
The work becomes a part of the Officer and the opposite is true. To say it is merely work and it will not spill over beyond the wire fence and the thick walls can be challenged by sociology and Psychology.
Creating a balance between the role of an Officer and that of a civilian may not be as easy. A smooth switch from the all calculated and highly structured military life at work into the plain clothing with a neutral identity, the Officer is just but one more person in the community. A relation of the other, simply put.
Surly, if the psychosocial welfare is not well taken care of, the Officer is prone to a shaky social life impacting relations and productivity both at work and outside work, the challenge is real.
Below are four (4) suggestions to Officers on how to balance and maintain relations notwithstanding the realities of work behind the thick walls:
1) Remember you are a relation to someone and you are loved. Remember that not everyone around you is as trained as you, be conscious of this fact.
2) Value outside work relations. Be interested in other things besides work, a balance of life.
3) Keep in touch and stay committed to other engagements you are expected to make, just as to work.
4) Do not shy help. No man is an island. Seek professional therapy as often as possible. Remember there is a human still inside the boots and the combat.
Remember that to survive there is need to adapt to new ways of life like the conversion of a civil mind to a military mind, likewise, social skills can be maintained and combined with military for a happy and enjoyable lifestyle.
The author is a Psychologist of the the Zambia Correctional Service, Chipata Central Correctional Service.