Mental Health Training for Correctional Officers

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Our jail wants to strengthen its mental health program. The health staff are well trained in mental health and coexisting disorders, but we need to increase the training for detention staff. Do you have any recommendations?

Congratulations on striving for excellence in your mental health program. In the Standards for Mental Health Services in Correctional Facilities, MH-C-04 Mental Health Training for Correctional Officers requires that all officers who work with inmates receive mental health-related training at least annually. At a minimum, this includes recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness, substance abuse and intellectual and developmental disabilities; communicating with inmates who have signs of mental illness, substance abuse and intellectual and developmental disabilities; procedures for suicide prevention and intervention; and procedures for referral of inmates with mental health complaints or suicidal behaviors to mental health staff.

Officers assigned to receiving screening and mental health areas are to receive additional training from mental health staff in order to fulfill their specific roles. Where appropriate, correctional staff should receive training on the dynamics of sexual abuse and sexual harassment in confinement, psychological reactions to sexual abuse/harassment and how to detect and respond to the psychological signs of threatened and actual sexual abuse.

— From CorrectCare Volume 33, Issue 4, Fall 2019