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Corrections stress

Recognizing that corrections can be a tough profession, the National Institute of Corrections is at the forefront of Health and Wellness for Corrections Professionals. The NIC website has a wealth of resources on the topic including webinars, a virtual conference dedicated to the subject, as well as an Internet Broadcast called Corrections Stress: Peaks and Valleys. The literature on the subject reflects what those who work in the field already know anecdotally, that the job of a correctional officer is particularly stressful. Officers must contend with rotating work schedules, mandatory overtime, and possible assaults by and among offenders. The following articles and discussion provide an overview of what information is available on suicide by correctional officers and—to some extent—police officers, and the impact workplace stress can have on officers. In response to the literature search, officer wellness is discussed, along with some of the interventions recommended to prevent suicides and reduce corrections fatigue.

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Staff is the life blood of any agency and its most valuable resource. Their wellness is paramount to organizational health and mission effectiveness. What can individuals and organizations do to identify issues commonly associated with corrections stress and cultivate a climate of staff resilience and agency health, stability and excellence?

During this broadcast, we will: Acknowledge the effects and consequences of corrections stress on staff and the organization; Identify commonly referenced terminology that informs the discussion of corrections stress; Explore the context and continuum of stress within the corrections profession; Discuss research and knowledge focusing on corrections stress that effects the individual and organizational culture; Present proactive strategies to identify and address cumulative effects and consequences of corrections stress; Describe individual and organizational strategies to build and maintain a healthy workforce; Discuss proactive tools and resources for both individuals and organizations; [and] Provide individual and organizational resources to promote and support a healthy workforce.

This broadcast will answer the following questions: Why is corrections stress an issue we need to address? What are characteristics of corrections stress? What does it look and sound like? What are distinguishing features of corrections stress within institutional and community settings? How do you build awareness of this issue for yourself and your organization? How do you address the problems and effects associated with corrections stress? What are strategies to deal with stressors? How can leadership introduce this issue within the agency? Who needs to be at the table to discuss it? What resources are available to you and your organization to address this issue? Are you taking advantage of them? What are tools and strategies for engaging and connecting directly with your community stakeholders? What positive steps can you take to make a difference personally and within your organization regarding corrections stress?"

Corrections Stress Cover
Corrections Stress: Peaks and Valleys - Segment 3

Staff is the life blood of any agency and its most valuable resource. Their wellness is paramount to organizational health and mission effectiveness. What can individuals and organizations do to identify issues commonly associated with corrections stress and cultivate a climate of staff resilience and agency health, stability and excellence?

During this broadcast, we will: Acknowledge the effects and consequences of corrections stress on staff and the organization; Identify commonly referenced terminology that informs the discussion of corrections stress; Explore the context and continuum of stress within the corrections profession; Discuss research and knowledge focusing on corrections stress that effects the individual and organizational culture; Present proactive strategies to identify and address cumulative effects and consequences of corrections stress; Describe individual and organizational strategies to build and maintain a healthy workforce; Discuss proactive tools and resources for both individuals and organizations; [and] Provide individual and organizational resources to promote and support a healthy workforce.

This broadcast will answer the following questions: Why is corrections stress an issue we need to address? What are characteristics of corrections stress? What does it look and sound like? What are distinguishing features of corrections stress within institutional and community settings? How do you build awareness of this issue for yourself and your organization? How do you address the problems and effects associated with corrections stress? What are strategies to deal with stressors? How can leadership introduce this issue within the agency? Who needs to be at the table to discuss it? What resources are available to you and your organization to address this issue? Are you taking advantage of them? What are tools and strategies for engaging and connecting directly with your community stakeholders? What positive steps can you take to make a difference personally and within your organization regarding corrections stress?"

Corrections Stress Cover
Corrections Stress: Peaks and Valleys - Intro

Staff is the life blood of any agency and its most valuable resource. Their wellness is paramount to organizational health and mission effectiveness. What can individuals and organizations do to identify issues commonly associated with corrections stress and cultivate a climate of staff resilience and agency health, stability and excellence?

During this broadcast, we will: Acknowledge the effects and consequences of corrections stress on staff and the organization; Identify commonly referenced terminology that informs the discussion of corrections stress; Explore the context and continuum of stress within the corrections profession; Discuss research and knowledge focusing on corrections stress that effects the individual and organizational culture; Present proactive strategies to identify and address cumulative effects and consequences of corrections stress; Describe individual and organizational strategies to build and maintain a healthy workforce; Discuss proactive tools and resources for both individuals and organizations; [and] Provide individual and organizational resources to promote and support a healthy workforce.

This broadcast will answer the following questions: Why is corrections stress an issue we need to address? What are characteristics of corrections stress? What does it look and sound like? What are distinguishing features of corrections stress within institutional and community settings? How do you build awareness of this issue for yourself and your organization? How do you address the problems and effects associated with corrections stress? What are strategies to deal with stressors? How can leadership introduce this issue within the agency? Who needs to be at the table to discuss it? What resources are available to you and your organization to address this issue? Are you taking advantage of them? What are tools and strategies for engaging and connecting directly with your community stakeholders? What positive steps can you take to make a difference personally and within your organization regarding corrections stress?"

Corrections Stress Cover
Corrections Stress: Peaks and Valleys - Segment 1

Staff is the life blood of any agency and its most valuable resource. Their wellness is paramount to organizational health and mission effectiveness. What can individuals and organizations do to identify issues commonly associated with corrections stress and cultivate a climate of staff resilience and agency health, stability and excellence?

During this broadcast, we will: Acknowledge the effects and consequences of corrections stress on staff and the organization; Identify commonly referenced terminology that informs the discussion of corrections stress; Explore the context and continuum of stress within the corrections profession; Discuss research and knowledge focusing on corrections stress that effects the individual and organizational culture; Present proactive strategies to identify and address cumulative effects and consequences of corrections stress; Describe individual and organizational strategies to build and maintain a healthy workforce; Discuss proactive tools and resources for both individuals and organizations; [and] Provide individual and organizational resources to promote and support a healthy workforce.

This broadcast will answer the following questions: Why is corrections stress an issue we need to address? What are characteristics of corrections stress? What does it look and sound like? What are distinguishing features of corrections stress within institutional and community settings? How do you build awareness of this issue for yourself and your organization? How do you address the problems and effects associated with corrections stress? What are strategies to deal with stressors? How can leadership introduce this issue within the agency? Who needs to be at the table to discuss it? What resources are available to you and your organization to address this issue? Are you taking advantage of them? What are tools and strategies for engaging and connecting directly with your community stakeholders? What positive steps can you take to make a difference personally and within your organization regarding corrections stress?"

Corrections Stress Cover
Corrections Stress: Peaks and Valleys - Segment 2

“The purpose of this study was to estimate prevalence rates for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and comorbid PTSD/depression in corrections professionals, and to explore the relationship between particular disorder conditions and a variety of variables including job type and numerous indices of health, well-being, and life functioning (e.g., number of doctor visits, number of absences from work, extent of substance use, satisfaction with life, job functioning, and other variables)” (p. 4). The total number of assessment items was 152 spread over four assessment tools: Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21); Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C); Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS); and the Impact on Functioning Scale (IOFS). Overall, 25.7% of the respondents were depressed with 67% of them having PSTD. Security/custody personnel had the highest rates with mental health care providers being second. Those individuals with comorbid PTSD/depression experienced the worst health-related outcomes.

Depression, PTSD, and Comorbidity in United States Corrections Professionals: Prevalence and Impact on Health and Functioning Cover

This three part series addresses the issue of corrections fatigue and how corrections staff can deal with it by developing "hazmat suits for their souls". A hazmat suit for the soul allows you to respond to the "hazardous materials" of daily stress and dangerous incidents during work and to "decontaminate" emotionally afterwards. Part One explains "complex trauma", how it can result in psychological symptoms, diagnostic psychiatric disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), adverse workplace performance, costs, and neurobiological changes. Part Two compares "negative resilience" and true resilience. It explains the need for corrections staff to seek "solid and enduring resilience is of primary importance, as literally lives may depend on it". Part Three explains how corrections staff can develop effective hazmat suits for the soul using prevention or intervention approaches. This part also describes four "categories of behavior (aka factors)" that can increase resilience in corrections staff. The factors are supportive staff relationship effects; self-care health maintenance efforts; confident/perseverant frame of mind; and controlled/logical problem-solving. NOTE: This set of articles was previously published in 2011, and have been updated and reprinted.

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The corrections profession is a tough business. While the work can be immensely rewarding, individuals entering this profession should be aware of both the tremendous opportunities that exist as well as the risks. Whether working in an institutional or community corrections environment, corrections professionals are faced with a myriad of challenges daily, from the populations we work with, responsibility to peers and leaders, queries from the media and public, and demands from friends and family.

The successful correctional professional takes his or her work seriously, yet, outside of the workplace should have other aspects to their lives that are healthy outlets, providing balance to the demands of the work. Maintaining the safety and security of our staff, justice involved individuals, and the general public is paramount in this work. Also, within the corrections' mission is the responsibility to provide opportunities for justice involved men and women to reduce their risk to reoffend and ultimately to become productive community members. Managing those dual roles require a great deal of skill and commitment, often at the expense of personal well-being. As a profession, we invest signficant resources in offender safety, security and creating opportunities for rehabilitation and habilitation, but pay far less attention and resources to maintaining the health and wellness of correctional professionals.

Correctional staff are the professions' most valuable resource. What steps will we take to hire the best, keep our staff well trained and prepared to carry out their responsibilities? How can we ensure they go home safely at the end of the shift, and return each day, motivated to perform at their very best for this important public safety work?

Below you will find a list of topics and additional resources on health and wellness. Find a topic, click, and there will be a number of items of interest.

A special thanks goes to Jefferson County Sheriff's Office for the photograph.

Issues surrounding stress in a correctional setting, like the effects, sources, and symptoms of stress, burnout, and coping strategies, are covered during this 6.5 hour course. Participants will be able to: define stress and identify the effects of stress; identify the sources of stress; identify the physical and behavioral symptoms of stress; define burnout and identify the stages of burnout; identify positive and negative coping strategies; summarize the key components of “My Pyramid”; recognize how thoughts, feelings, and attitudes lead to predictable patterns of behavior; practice “objective detachment” in observing and describing thoughts, feelings, and attitudes; and practice identifying stress-mitigating responses to work-related situations. Also included is the PowerPoint presentation, video vignettes, and participant handouts.

Dealing with Stress in Corrections [Lesson Plans and Participant's Manual] Cover

"Seven staff fatalities including three suicides in just three years (2010-2012). For professionals who operate correction facilities, stress can be a significant issue with fatal consequences. The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) had 45 staff fatalities over the past 30 years. Twenty-four percent of these deaths were suicide. MSO believes the other deaths are tied to stress and wellness related health issues such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. MSO Sheriff Peter Koutoujian assumed the leadership role at this time and focused on improving correctional officer (CO) wellness and safety … MSO approached the Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center for assistance understanding the contributors to CO work-related stressors. MSO’s goal was to identify and alleviate the causes of workplace stress to improve CO wellness and safety and reduce CO suicide through implementation of evidence-based programs and promising practices" (p. 1). This document describes the Center's analysis and recommendations. Sections of this case study include: overview; data-driven programs and practices recommended to address the issue; the Diagnostic Center; the diagnostic process; six factors contributing to the issue; descriptions and details of the recommended evidence-based programs and practices; Diagnostic Center's recommendations; impact and outcome; community's response; and insight gained.

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