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The Importance of Mental Health Training for Correctional Officers

In terms of health, inmates are just like regular people who have certain healthcare needs. That is why, as much as possible, they need to also receive proper health care while inside jails and prisons. Delivering proper healthcare services to inmates is the responsibility of correctional officers. These officers do more than just facilitate the workflow inside the facility. They also serve as ears and eyes within the premises to alert health staff to inmates who may have potential health issues. In essence, this personnel is the first to respond to any issues inside the facility. For this reason, they should have a good understanding of their part in the early detection of injury and illness, know the proper response to life-threatening situations, and have awareness of any potential emergencies that may take place. All these things and more are covered when correctional officers are provided proper health training in different aspects of health.

Health training programs like mental health training for correctional officers are very important. There is a standard that these specific programs follow, namely, Standard C-04. The primary goal of this standard is to provide proper training to correctional officers for them to determine when they need to seek qualified health care professional help for an inmate and to offer emergency services until the health professional arrives.

Health training for correctional officers is accomplished using a variety of methods. These include roll-call in-services, classroom training, electronic training, or the combination of any of these methods. Healthcare staff may take charge of these training sessions. Other individuals who can conduct these training sessions include correctional staff who are qualified to instruct and teach on these topics. No matter the method used for training and the ones responsible for training correctional officers, the standard requires that officers working with inmates should get health-related training at least once every two years. The training program should be duly approved or established by proper healthy authorities in cooperation with the administrator of the facility.

There are certain components involved in the health training programs that correctional officers undergo as per the standard. Most training programs cover the minimum requirements. If appropriate, trainers must add related topics to the training program. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation training is an essential component in the health training that these correctional officers undergo. This kind of training should only be provided by an approved body like the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. It can also be provided by a person who has a recent instructor’s certificate from any of these approved bodies. Usually, when courses are given by an approved body, they will also cover another component as per the standard requirement. This component is knowing when to provide emergency intervention and care in life-threatening situations like a heart attack.

It is quite common to see inmates who have chronic conditions or who take maintenance medications housed together with the general population. They are even often away from the health staff. This is why it is the responsibility of correctional officers to know when acute manifestations of chronic conditions are already taking place. These conditions include diabetes, seizures, and asthma. The same goes for any adverse reactions that inmates have toward their medications. Alerting the health staff for inmates with withdrawal symptoms and symptoms of intoxication for early treatment and interventions is also a must.

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