BOISE, Idaho — A new program at the Idaho Department of Corrections launched to address impacts of trauma on both staff and residents at the facilities.
Officials with IDOC announced the pilot program will launch it's first phase of the trauma intervention program focusing on correctional staff. The program is funded through Gov. Brad Little's Leading Idaho plan, which directs $50 million to behavioral health resources statewide.
“Correctional officers have elevated rates of stress, depression, and burnout just because of the nature of their work," Deputy Director Bree Derrick said. "It’s really hard work and so we wanted to do something to really take care of our staff.”
“With us being short-staffed, working overtime is really hard because you’re going on limited amounts of sleep working 16-hour shifts sometimes so you come to work exhausted, IDOC Sergeant Cassaundra Lehmkuhle said.
The department is asking mental health professionals across Idaho to submit proposals detailing how to they can help staff who face tough situations every day on the job.
“We're looking for people who would offer supportive services so that might be like mental health first aid, or training and resiliency," Derrick said. "The other is direct mental health services so we’re looking for licensed counselors, psychologists, social workers who want to come and deploy specific interventions for staff.”
Lehmkuhle says her job is very stressful and the staff's main priorities are the residents’ and staff's safety while on the clock.
"We want to make sure at the end of the day, the people we’re working side by side with are going home safe at the end of the day," Lehmkuhle said.
"We count on these dedicated professionals to keep the people of Idaho safe," IDOC Director Josh Tewalt said in a statement. "We want to do more to help them stay healthy in the course of performing their difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs."