The Perceptions of Occupational Stress of Mental Health Professionals Practicing in Texas Correctional and Non-Correctional Settings: A Preliminary Examination
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Background: The mental healthcare field and corrections are both known to be stressful work settings. Mental health professionals who endure a vast amount of occupational stress can not only be destructive to themselves but also their patients and organization. Professionals practicing in corrections may experience another layer of stress due to the harsh work environment. Correctional facilities are documented to have high turnover and burnout rates of security staff, medical personnel and other operational employees; however, no study had focused on mental health professionals within this environment. The previous literature lacked any insight into how the correctional settings may influence a mental health professional’s stress level. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to measure occupational stress of mental health professionals in correctional and non-correctional settings to determine if there is a difference in stress scores. Methods: A sample of correctional mental health professionals (n = 20) and non-correctional mental health professionals (n = 26) completed the Health and Safety Executive Management Standards Indicator Tool. Results: A MANOVA analysis indicated a difference in stress scores between correctional mental health professionals and non-correctional mental health professionals (F (1, 44) = 3.679, p = .004; observed power = .946; and effect size (η2) = .404.). Conclusion: Mental health professionals in correctional settings reported higher levels of occupational stress than those working in non-correctional settings. Implications of these findings are discussed.