Stress and Corrections: Addressing the Safety and Well-Being of Correctional Officers

Source: Diane Elliot, Kerry Kuehl, Mazen El Ghaziri and Martin Cherniack, Corrections Today, July 2015

….This article is a snapshot of ongoing work and a growing national consortium of individuals interested in advancing the well-being of correctional officers (COs). In 2006, the National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH) began combining its emphasis on worker safety with workplace health promotion for a strategy termed Total Worker Health (TWH). Traditionally, safety and health each have received only individual attention. Corrections is a profession with clear links among safety, job-related issues and health. Those connections and pressing needs for improvements in both health protection and promotion move COs into the spotlight for promoting TWH. Correctional work conditions and practices differ by facility, region and jurisdiction. As a result, it is difficult to generalize from the small number of available studies to make conclusions about the health of the more than half a million COs in the U.S. However, the picture that emerges from the limited available information is concerning. The authors and others have found that COs have high rates of stress, depression, suicide, obesity, cardiovascular disease risks and injury…..