Mental Health of Corrections Officers

Determining the Mental Health Needs of Corrections Officers in Missouri for the Development of a Total Worker Health Program

Lisa Jaegers conducted a pilot study at one urban and two rural jails in Missouri to learn more about what corrections officers need to be safe and healthy on the job. First, corrections officers answered written questions about their health, well-being, and workplace concerns. Next, researchers talked with corrections officers about these issues. Finally, researchers discussed how to address issues with representatives from each jail. The study found that corrections officers have worse mental and physical health than the general population. Officers are concerned about the culture of their workplace, and feel they are not respected and appreciated for their work. Representatives indicated this might be improved through recognition of positive work performance, enforcement of policies to take breaks, rotation of shifts, more training, offering fresh food options, and reduction of the officer-resident ratio. Dr. Jaeger received additional grant support from the Healthier Workforce Center to continue her work.


Jaegers, L. A., Vaughn, M. G., Werth, P., Matthieu, M. M., Ahmad, S. O., & Barnidge, E. Work-Family Conflict, Depression, and Burnout Among Jail Correctional Officers: A 1-Year Prospective Study. Safety and Health at Work. (In Press).

Jaegers, L. A., Ahmad, S. O., Scheetz, G., Bixler, E., Nadimpalli, S., Barnidge, E., Katz, I. M., Vaughn, M. G., & Matthieu, M. (2020). Total Worker Health® needs assessment to identify workplace mental health interventions in rural and urban jails. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74, 7403205020.

Jaegers, L. A., Matthieu, M. M., Werth, P., Ahmad, S. O., Barnidge, E., & Vaughn, M. G. (2020). Stressed Out: Predictors of Depression Among Jail Officers and Deputies. The Prison Journal, 100(2), 240–261.

Jaegers, L. A., Matthieu, M., Vaughn, M. G., Werth, P., Katz, I. M., & Ahmad, S.O. (2019). Posttraumatic stress disorder and job burnout among jail officers. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 61, 505-510. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001600

Dorsey, J., Ehrenfried, H., Finch, D., & Jaegers, L. (2018). Work in occupational therapy. In B. Schell & G. Gillen (Eds). Willard and Spackman’s occupational therapy (13th ed., pp. 779-804). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer/ Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Jaegers, L. (2019, November). Finding Your Happy [un]Balance with Reentry Work. Missouri Reentry Conference, Lake Ozark, MO.

Jaegers, L. A., Pestello, E., & Dieleman, C. (2019, October). Exploring sanctioned and non-sanctioned hobbies among correctional officers to inform workplace health promotion interventions. Society for the Study of Occupations: USA Annual Meeting. Scottsdale, AZ.

Jaegers, L., Frank, A., & Erfe, S. (2019, August). Panel: Bridging Reentry/Transition Services with Workplace Health. National Corrections Collaborative – National Symposium on Corrections Worker Health, Boston, MA.

Campo, S. & Jaegers, L. A. (2019, April). Total Worker Health: A population health and workplace resource for you & your organizations. American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA.

Jaegers, L., Ahmad, S., Matthieu, M., Barnidge, E., Werth, P., Bixler, E., Scheetz, G., Nadimpalli, S., & Vaughn, M. (2018, May). Rural and urban jail Total Worker Health® needs assessment: Similar health, different workplaces. 2nd International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

El Ghaziri, M., Jaegers, L., Grubb, P., & Cherniack, M. (2018, May) Correction workers health and wellness: Engagement of research and professional partners through the National Corrections Collaborative. 2nd International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Jaegers, L., Carson, J., Edwards, R. (2017, August). Collaborative approaches to health needs assessment and identification of workplace health solutions in urban and rural jails of St. Louis, National Corrections Collaborative – National Symposium on Correctional Worker Health, Saint Louis University School of Law, St. Louis, MO.

Jaegers, L., Dussetschleger, J., Cherniack, M., El Ghaziri, M., Dugan, A., Erfe, S. (2017, August). Breaching the Steel Wall: Improving Correctional Staff Health through Participatory Action Research. American Correctional Association Conference of Correction, St. Louis, MO.

Bixler, E., Scheetz, G., Kelly, P., Matthieu, M., Barnidge, E., Ahmad, O., & Jaegers, L. (2016, November). Community health promotion to support corrections workplace health: A mixed methods needs assessment. American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting, Denver, CO.

Nadimpalli, S., Jaegers, L., Matthieu, M., Barnidge, E., Ahmad, O., Scheetz, G., Dick, R., Kelly, P. (2016, October). Relationship between social support and depression among jail corrections officers – A pilot study. American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting, Denver, CO.

Bass, J. & Jaegers, L. (2016, April). Buzz 304 – Work & Industry Special Interest Section Buzz Session: Public Health and Workplace Health Promotion-Opportunities to Advance Occupational Therapy. American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.

Jaegers L & Finch D. (2016, April). Short Course 350 – Total Worker Health: Positioning Occupational Therapy for Interprofessional Workplace Safety & Health Promotion. American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.

Jaegers L, Matthieu M, Barnidge E, Ahmad O, Scheetz G, Dick R, Nadimpalli S, Kelly, P. (2016, April). Identifying Occupational Stressors to Inform Workplace Health Programs for Jail Corrections Officers in Eastern Missouri.” SLU Health Sciences Collaborative Research Initiative, Health Sciences Multidisciplinary Research Symposium, St. Louis, MO.


One In 3 Missouri Jail Officers Struggles with Depression, Study Reports. (January 2020). By Shahla Farzan. St. Louis Public Radio, 90.7 KWMU and KSMU Radio.

“Study Findings on Political Science Are Outlined in Reports from St. Louis University (Stressed Out: Predictors of Depression Among Jail Officers and Deputies).” Politics & Government Week 16 Jan. 2020: 339.   

Participatory Approach in Corrections (2019).

Podcast: Workplace Matters (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Sound Cloud). By Michael Guhin, Healthier Workforce Center, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Center of Excellence.

‘How Am I Gonna Handle Tomorrow?’: Missouri Jail Officers at Risk Of PTSD. (May, 2019). By Shahla Farzan. St. Louis Public Radio, 90.7 KWMU; KSMU Radio; and KBIA-FM91.3 & 89.7.

Reforming the System. On the Record. (December, 2017). Doisy College of Health Sciences Newsletter.