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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Study: 1 in 4 prison workers in Michigan are experiencing PTSD

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The data released on Tuesday surveying Michigan Department of Corrections employees showed rates of post traumatic stress disorder that are as high or higher than rates of first responders.  

“If you see something traumatic that can add to those symptoms to PTSD that our staff face just as first responder, or police officer or an EMT might when they come across a gruesome medical scene. You know, we have those same things happen in prison that staff are immediately responding to, and cleaning up blood, and those effects from a beating, or a stabbing of some kind.” 

Thats Chris Gautz the spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections. While Gautz says the data reported was not unexpected – it was surprising to find out how helpful employees say a supportive work environment can be in mitigating mental health concerns. 

“The overall quality of the working environment has a greater impact on an employee’s mental and physical health than exposure and danger to trauma.” 

And although a study of this kind is new to the state of Michigan, several studies across the country have found similar results. A study out of Washington state prison demonstrated that prison employees experience PTSD at a rate six times higher than the general population. 

“We feel like we need to understand, and we need to recognize that our employees are saying these things, and we need to be transparent and open and tell people that this is what our employees are going through.” 

Not only are prison employees in Michigan experiencing high PTSD rates, they are also experiencing higher rates of death by suicide than the national average.  

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News. 

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