The topic of mental health is an important discussion to have in any profession, but it’s especially important for a highly stressful job such as a correctional officer. The things that CO’s witness or experience daily, such as vicious assaults or mandatory overtime, would cause stress to anyone. I see firsthand in the prison I serve, that there are, unfortunately, not enough resources and discussions being had about how these events mentally affect them. A recent traumatic event at my prison has lit a fire in my spirit to assist COs in managing the challenges they face. I believe that if we start to have this discussion now and take the necessary steps towards better mental health, then the quality of life for correctional officers can be improved.
The Statistics on Mental Health
According to a California correctional officer survey conducted by University of California, Berkeley, 50% of officers say they rarely feel safe at work. More than one-third of all correctional officers have been told by someone they know that they have been more anxious or depressed since working in corrections. One in three of them have experienced at least one symptom of PTSD and ten percent of them have had suicidal thoughts. These statistics are alarming but given the statistics on how much violence CO’s must endure in their careers, these statistics aren’t surprising.
What Can Be Done
I truly believe that COs deserve to have the mental health resources they need more readily available to them. They need to understand that talking to someone does not make them “weak” or “crazy,” it makes them human. There must be an open and non-judgmental discussion involving mental health for CO’s and they should be able to easily access the help they deserve.
Therefore, I'm on a mission to build a community of COs that are ready to hit the reset button on their lives. You've got one life to live; don't wait until retirement to start fully living it. DM me if you’re ready to reclaim your life by using therapeutic tools that have been proven to reduce stress!