The current state of mental health and existing resources for correctional officers in British Columbia
Proutt, Rebecca Ann
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SubjectCorrectional Officer; Depression; First Responder; Mental Health; Organizational Culture; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Purpose To assess the current state of mental health and the resources available for correctional officers working in Provincial correctional facilities in British Columbia. The amount of existing literature focusing on Canadian correctional officers as first responders are minimal, with very few focusing on the officers’ mental health. Methods Surveys were distributed to 1374 unionized employees in Provincial correctional centres in British Columbia. A mixed-methods approach utilized the SF-36v2 quantitative health survey and open-ended interview-style qualitative questions coded using convergent grounded theory. Results Utilizing a convergent approach to data analysis, SF-36v2 data was analyzed using z-score transformations and comparing results to t-scores derived from the 2009 United States general health survey. The average mental health component score was 34.28 [N=196], with 70% [N=196] meeting the criteria for first-stage depression screening. The general population MCS is 50, with 19% meeting depression criteria. Qualitative themes including abandonment, mortality and death were prevalent. Conclusions The correctional officers surveyed scored significantly lower in every test of mental health and wellness than the general population, with men reporting lower mental wellness than women. Officers reported feeling abandoned by the organization and unable to access proper resources. The employer should make significant efforts to improve their employees’ organizational culture and mental health, such as mandatory psychological check-ins and support for officers.
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