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Pervasive Uncertainty under Threat: Mental Health Disorders and Experiences of Uncertainty for Correctional Workers
Criminal Justice and Behavior  (IF2.801),  Pub Date : 2021-10-23, DOI: 10.1177/00938548211050112
Rosemary Ricciardelli, Meghan Mitchell, Tamara Taillieu, Andreanne Angehrn, Tracie Afifi, R. Nicholas Carleton

Exposure to potentially psychologically traumatic events for correctional workers is high. However, the mechanisms driving the high prevalence are relatively unexplained. Using data from a cross-sectional, online survey of correctional service workers (n = 845) in Ontario, Canada, collected in 2017–2018, we assess the prevalence of mental disorders with a specific focus on uncertainty in the workplace and between correctional roles. We find that correctional officers, institutional governance, and probation/parole officers appear most at risk of mental disorders (prevalence of any mental disorder was 56.9%, 60.3%, and 59.2%, respectively). We argue slightly lower prevalence among institutional wellness, training, and administrative staff may result in part from their more predictable work environment, where they have more control. The results reaffirm a need for evidence-based proactive mental health activities, knowledge translation, and treatment and a need to explore how authority without control (i.e., unpredictability at work) can inform employee mental health.