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A longitudinal study of Correctional Services Canada correctional officers’ mental health and well-being: The role of prison work and prisons in shaping correctional staff health and self over time

Keywords: Mental Health Disorders, Well-being

Summary

Like all public safety work, correctional work can lead to challenging, stressful, and potentially traumatic experiences. Researchers have identified factors that might increase psychological disorders in correctional officers (COs). However, no research has explored if COs feel prepared for the job challenges when they begin their careers.

This study, piloted in previous catalyst grant research, recruited Correctional Services Canada officer trainees. In the pilot, CO recruits provided information on their historical and present mental health at the start of employment (including experiences that have shaped them over their lives such as trauma or mental health diagnosis). They were also asked questions about coping skills, views, and experiences at the job’s start.

During this study, COs will be followed from deployment through the first three years of their careers. They will complete qualitative and psychological interviews each year as well as surveys. This data will be used to see if the team can identify CO recruits who will develop mental health disorders or have poor well-being versus those who do not. The information will help the team understand what resources CO recruits and COs require throughout their careers.

Future directions

This study will help frame the needs of COs before and during their employment in correctional services and generate training to support COs’ mental health resiliency.

Principal Researchers

Rose Ricciardeli, Professor of Sociology at Memorial University of Newfoundland; Bev Arseneault, Director General Learning and Development at Correctional Service Canada; and Dianne Groll, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Queens University.

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