According to Rutgers Health researchers, training correctional officers in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) for adults, a 7.5-hour national education program from the National Council of Mental Wellbeing, may help provide them with the necessary skills to effectively identify signs and symptoms of mental distress and advocate for incarcerated individuals facing mental health crises.

Led by Pamela Valera, an assistant professor in the Department of Urban-Global Public Health at Rutgers School of Public Health, the researchers collaborated with the National Council of Mental Wellbeing to develop the pilot study, published in Psychological Services, to evaluate officers’ mental health knowledge and attitudes before and after undergoing the remote training.

“Correctional officers serve as first responders, working around the clock in three shifts. They are often the initial point of contact for individuals experiencing mental health distress, psychosis, and substance abuse within criminal justice settings,” Valera said. “Despite this critical role, correctional officers typically receive minimal mental health training.” To read the full story.