Prison staff given meditation classes
Officers at HMP Manchester, formerly Strangeways, which holds more than 1,200 inmates, are taught deep-breathing techniques and other relaxation methods.
The day-and-a-half-long courses are being run by occupational health professionals and 60 officers have taken part. Staff who want to put the lessons into practice can use the training rooms during their lunch breaks or at the end of their shifts to 'de-stress'.
The courses are not compulsory but are run during time allocated for health and safety.
Glyn Travis, assistant secretary for the Prison Officers' Association said: "Anything that helps staff deal with stress is a good idea.
"Dealing with prisoners on a day-to-day basis is stressful and meditation, along with other techniques such as yoga, is a good coping mechanism."
Diana Kloss, an occupational health expert and barrister, who advises organisations such as the NHS and police on work-related legal and health matters, praised the scheme.
She said: "It is very important that employees have the chance to deal properly with stress.
"A job such as working in prisons can be more stressful than just sitting in an office.
"When people don't get the help they need, they can end up going off sick or retiring early."
Graham Stringer, MP for Manchester Blackley, which covers the prison, said: "Anything that helps prison officers deal with stress and takes the conflict out of potentially-difficult situations is a good thing.
"I would be interested to see how this is monitored in the long-term."
A spokesman for the Prison Service said: "The course at HMP Manchester included training in meditation, but did seem useful for stress management.
"It does not include religious elements."