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Study: Michigan prison workers facing ‘mental health crisis’

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A study says Michigan prison workers are facing a "mental health crisis," including a higher likelihood of symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts and depression.

The report was released Monday by the state Department of Corrections, which is trying to reduce employee suicides and to improve staff wellness. The $50,000 study is the result of a survey that was filled out by about 3,500 employees.

Nearly one in four of all workers are estimated to meet the criteria for PTSD. One in six meet the criteria for major depressive disorder. More than 100 employees are currently and actively planning to kill themselves, according to the report.

Corrections director Heidi Washington says the department is working to establish a culture of wellness that seeks to reduce employee stress.

The study discovered workplace environment and culture plays a significant impact on employees' mental health, more so than experiencing a traumatic incident at work.

Recently, the DOC has created a wellness unit as a resource to help employees with mental impact. About six employees will work with the wellness unit to help employees.

"It's clearly okay to ask for help," said Chris Gautz, Public Information Officer with the Michigan Department of Corrections. "That's what we are trying to get across to people, employees."

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