Why was the study done?
Research has shown that corrections workers have a higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, and PTSD than the general population. Research has also described that some correctional workers do not seek care or treatment because of stigma about mental health.
It is essential to understand the role of mental health knowledge, gender, job position, stigma, and help-seeking behaviour.
The goals of the current study are:
- to examine if a worker’s gender has an impact on mental health knowledge, stigma about mental health, and help-seeking behaviour;
- to determine if job position (e.g., correction officer, wellness staff, admin staff) affects mental health knowledge, stigma about mental health, and help-seeking behaviour.
What was done in the study?
Data for the study was taken from a larger self-report survey. The measures analyzed included self-report screening tools for various mental health disorders and measures of social and self-stigma, mental health knowledge, and help-seeking behaviour. In total, 1107 participants who work for correctional services were included in this study.
What did we find out?
- Females reported less stigma toward individuals with mental health challenges compared to males.
- Females were more likely to seek help than males.
- Males reported less mental health knowledge.
- Wellness staff (i.e. nurses, psychologists, other health professionals) reported less stigma toward mental health challenges and greater willingness to seek help than their administrative, correction officer, or institutional governance co-workers.
Where do we go from here?
This study examined a relatively small sample of corrections employees working in institutions. However, the findings support continued work on improving correctional employee training to help workers recognize and manage symptoms of mental health injuries in staff and prisoners. Increased mental health knowledge has been linked to decreases in stigma in other research, so it is important to expand mental health knowledge in the corrections environment. It is also important for help-seeking to be promoted so that it is acceptable and encouraged in all corrections employees.
The original wording of the study was changed and condensed for the current research summary.
Ricciardelli, R., Haynes, S.H., Burdette, A., Keena, L., McCreary, D.R., Carleton, R.C., Lambert, E.G. & Groll, D. (2021). Mental health, stigma, gender, and seeking treatment: Interpretations and experiences of prison employees. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 16(1). http://dev.cjcenter.org/_files/apcj/16-1-6Ricciardelli.pdf_1615504982.pdf
Summary prepared by Kossick ,E. Edited and Reviewed by Barootes, B. & Ricciardelli, R.