27% of corrections officers have symptoms of PTSD

Michigan Department of Corrections appoints employee wellness program manager to help reduce stress and suicide rates among officers.

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The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has appointed an employee wellness program manager in response to concerns about stress and suicide. At least 14 active or recently retired corrections officers have committed suicide since 2015. One study cited in the Detroit Free Press article showed 27% of corrections officers have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This new appointee will manage peer support, the chaplain program, and an improved Traumatic Incident Stress Management Program.

We are thrilled to see MDOC take a proactive approach to this problem. Corrections officers have dangerous jobs and are exposed to situations that are not easy to manage. PTSD is a real concern for many of our clients who have worked in the prison system. Health and wellness programs have been shown to reduce workers’ compensation costs and improve employee morale. Preventing just one suicide is worth the program cost alone.

Mental health is not something people like to discuss. There is a stigma attached to employees who have trouble coping and are unable to work. We hope anyone who is suffering from PTSD gets needed help. There is no reason to suffer in silence! It is also important that management across the State of Michigan “buy-in” and recognize mental health concerns.

The University of Michigan Health System says PTSD can occur after a traumatic event. Symptoms include feeling upset, anxious, jittery, numb, losing interest in things, and avoiding places. Some people experience vivid memories, nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks. PTSD can change behavior and lead to drug or alcohol abuse. Relationships with friends and family members can be impacted. PTSD is treated with medication and counseling. Asking for help is the first but hardest step.

Workers’ compensation is designed to provide medical treatment and lost wages to employees suffering from PTSD. Medical should be paid 100% with no co-pays or deductibles. Wage loss benefits should equal 80% of an employee’s after-tax average weekly wage. It is also possible to request alternative work assignments so that stressful environments and situations can be avoided.

There is no magic test showing what a person thinks or feels. PTSD must arise out of actual events from the workplace and the employee’s perception must be reasonably grounded in fact or reality. Employee reactions will be judged on a subjective-personal basis but contribution from other life factors will also be examined. Disputes about payment of workers’ compensation benefits can be challenged with an administrative hearing. We recommend speaking with an attorney should this become necessary.

Michigan law also prohibits employers from discharging or in any manner discriminating against an employee for exercising his or her rights under workers’ compensation. This behavior could give rise to a separate employment lawsuit.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.

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