When we think about law enforcement and mental health, many people picture police officers. Yet, according to studies, prison workers have a high rate of mental health issues. In fact, some studies show a higher rate of mental health problems in corrections officers than in police officers.

Here is more on corrections officers and mental health including statistics, the reasons why there are mental health issues, and how to get help.

Mental Health Statistics in Corrections Officers

According to Dr. Lois James, who conducted a study through the Sleep and Performance Research Center and College of Nursing at Washington State University in Spokane:

These findings add to the strong body of evidence that prison employees in general experience some of the highest rates of mental illness, sleep disorders, and physical health issues of all U.S. workers.

And when some corrections officers answered a survey, there was almost 20 percent who had symptoms indicative of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is an alarming rate that is higher than the general population by 6 percent. It is also interestingly 1 percent higher than what is found in police officers.

These numbers show a true correlation between this type of work and mental health declines.

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Why Do Corrections Officers Have Mental Health Issues?

The problem is that the environment behind prison walls is hard on everyone not just inmates. Corrections officers deal with a multitude of problems, such as:

  • Threats to corrections officers or their family
  • Seeing someone injured
  • Seeing someone die
  • Fights among inmates
  • Suicide attempts
  • Hurting someone themselves
  • Being taken hostage (or fear of such)
  • Fear of making a life-threatening mistake
  • Frustrations with the job or politics within the job
  • Feeling in danger
  • Being around so much negative energy

These are just examples of some of the stress and anxiety that corrections officers go through working in a hyper-violent environment.

The shift work also disrupts the circadian rhythm. And 12-hour shifts disrupt home and family life, adding more stress to the corrections officer.

This is not just found in larger prisons. Even working at smaller jails or correctional institution environments can lead to mental health issues.

As referenced by a study on Psych Alive:

Twenty-five percent of correctional officers reported feeling a lack of emotional responsiveness, 20 percent reported an inability to find pleasure in anything, and 13 percent report hopelessness and/or worthlessness. It was found that approximately 50 percent of participants reported having no energy or being excessively tired; 44 percent reported frequent headaches, with 12 percent having monthly migraines.

Help for Mental Health Issues

There is help available for corrections officer with mental health issues due to their job.

Transformations Treatment Center takes an approach that focuses on the issues. These include:

  • Coping through difficult times
  • Rebuilding family relationships
  • Trauma management
  • Suicide awareness and prevention
  • Understanding substance abuse triggers
  • Anger management
  • Grief and loss healing

The program is designed to treat co-occurring diagnoses, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The treatment avenues include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Dual diagnosis
  • EMDR trauma therapy
  • Pain, stress, and anxiety therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Neurofeedback

Transformations Treatment Center has h olistic nutrition with dieticians, natural supplement protocols, and chiropractic services. We also have a health club with a private trainer, beach time, pool time all in a non-institutional atmosphere.

If you or someone you love is a corrections officer and needs help, contact us so we can help get you or your loved one through it.