Mental Health Training for Correctional Officers: An Innovative Educational Approach – 2019-11-06

In Ontario, overrepresentation of individuals with psychiatric diagnoses in correctional settings is well-established. Correctional officers play a central role in supporting individuals with mental illness. Nonetheless, the training that correctional officers (COs) receive in mental health is often considered to be inadequate. The presentation will provide an overview of the curriculum and evaluation results of a Correctional Officers Mental Health Training delivered by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) at the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) and Vanier Centre for Women in response to training needs. The curriculum focused on general mental health awareness; specific focus on psychotic, personality, and substance use disorders; assessment of suicide and violence risk; communicating with inmates in distress; and maintaining one’s own mental health. The day included two live simulations, which provided COs the opportunity to identify signs of mental illness, assess risk and respond strategically to manage and de-escalate each situation.

Presenters: Tanya Connors, Dr. Shaheen Darani, Dr. Kiran Patel