Date of Paper

5-2013

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Felicia Washington-Sy

Abstract

Correctional officers working within county jails are limited in training for mental health crisis intervention strategies. This study explored correctional officers’ insight after fulfilling training on SMI provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness: Minnesota, in which insight was gained of professional attitudes and perceptions, evaluating program effectiveness. A focus group was employed with correctional officers who were purposefully invited to participate in this study as they have direct, firsthand knowledge of the strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement of the training. The findings indicate that correctional officers feel jail is not a place for individuals with a mental illness. The stigma of mental health behavior is another finding noted within the correctional officers discussion. Lastly, with the collected perceptions and judgments of correctional officers’, it is duly noted that this training provided by NAMI: MN is a solution to overcoming barriers of increasing knowledge of SMI. Recommendations for the program include increasing knowledge on signs and symptoms of mental health behaviors, teaching ways to approach individuals who are not in crisis, collaboration techniques, and ensuring administrators are made aware of how important this training is for correctional officers and ways it benefits their jails, as an organization and a system. One last recommendation is that more correctional officers’ need to be taught about mental health, signs and symptoms, truths about mental illnesses and stigmas surrounding SMI, increasing knowledge.

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