Enhancing wellbeing and resilience within prisons: A psycho-educational approach for the missing middle

Investigators: James Ogloff, Michael Daffern, Jeffrey Pfeifer, Jason Skues, Alfie Oliva, Rachel Ownes, Dennis Roach (G4S)

Project type: Australian Research Council Linkage Grant 2014 – 2017 ($778,000)

Rationale and aims:

  • Many prisoners experience mental illness and psychological distress, and in some studies these symptoms increase the risk of reoffending.
  • Prison officers also experience high levels of anxiety and distress, which can have detrimental effect on their work performance and satisfaction.
  • This project aims to identify the mental health needs and factors that lead to psychological distress among prisoners and prison officers and then to test novel brief interventions for prisoners and prison officers suffering sub-clinical levels of distress.

Methodology:

Prisoners
  • Research Phase 1 – A quantitative survey of prisoner wellbeing at Port Phillip Prison.
  • Research Phase 2 – A qualitative study of prisoner wellbeing at Port Phillip Prison.
  • Research Phase 3 – Development, implementation and evaluation of wellbeing intervention for prisoners.
Prison Officers
  • Research Phase 1 – Quantitative examination of the wellbeing of prison officers at Port Phillip Prison
  • Research Phase 2 – Development, implementation and evaluation of wellbeing intervention for prison officers.
  • The programs will be evaluated to determine whether they are preventing mental health deterioration among participants and whether the results reduce repeat incarceration for prisoners and increase job satisfaction and performance for officers.

Progress:

  • Over 400 prisoners have completed the prisoner wellbeing survey.
  • Data collection for Research Phase 1 is now complete.
  • Research Phase 2 (Prisoners) to commence October 2016.
  • Research Phase 2 (Prison officers) to commence program evaluation in November 2016.

Publications:

Trounson, J. S., & Pfeifer, J. E. (2016). Promoting correctional officer wellbeing: Guidelines and suggestions for developing psychological training programs. Advancing Corrections, 1, 56-64.

Trounson, J. S., Pfeifer, J. E., & Critchley, C. (2016). Correctional officers and Work-related Environmental Adversity: A cross-occupational comparison. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 12(1), 18-35.