This story was told by a person incarcerated at San Quentin.
UCI: So, how have you been dealing with everything that’s been going on?
Caller: Well, I suffer from bipolar disorder and depression. And one of the first things that happened after the outbreak here at San Quentin was they stopped all medical and mental health appointments that were non-emergency.
That were just routine checkups. They stopped those completely for several months. So, for a while I was not receiving any mental health care.
UCI: Nothing? Like just …?
Caller: Nothing. No checkups. No meetings with the therapist or psychologist.
I was still being provided my mental health medication, my psychiatric medication. But there were no med checks. Nothing to oversee my mental health.
UCI: So, have they resumed health care? Like mental health care? Or is it still not available?
Caller: They have begun seeing us through telehealth. That’s like a webcam meeting with mental health professionals. They have resumed those. Usually on average about once every three months you’re instructed to meet with a mental health professional over telehealth.
UCI: Once every three months?
Caller: But they have reduced somewhat.
UCI: So, you guys only get to see them once every three months?
Caller: Yes. That’s the standard duration for mental health wellness checks.
UCI: So, this … How’s it been affecting you not being able to see your family and loved ones?
Caller: Oh, it’s been stressful both on myself and my family. The telephone service that is used by San Quentin, the Global Tel Link, has provided some free phone calls to us. So, we’re still able to communicate with our loved ones. But it’s been very stressful not being able to see them face to face.
UCI: Yeah, I can understand that.
UCI: So, are there any …? Okay.
Caller: Are there what?
UCI: Are there any like activities for you guys to do, like classes or something?
Caller: No. Programs and classes have all been suspended. I was in the addiction to recovery counseling program, as well as printmaking, and they’re not allowing any programs or classes of any kind to take place right now.
And that’s been in place since about May or June of this year. No classes or programs.
UCI: Whoa, so just nothing?
Caller: No. Virtually no programming of any kind.