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New report says PTSD concern for all MDOC employees

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Employees at the Michigan Department of Corrections face a higher chance of Major Depressive Disorder than first responders and other high stress jobs. That’s according to a new report released Monday.

The study found that about one in four MDOC employees would meet criteria for PTSD if they were screened.

The department received money from the state Legislature last year for the study. Everyone, from corrections officers to administrative staff, was asked to fill out an anonymous survey. Abut 3,500 employees filled out the survey.

“When we have staff that are coming to us and taking the survey and telling us, ‘I have anxiety, I have PTSD, I have depression, I’m becoming an alcoholic,’ these are things that we need to talk about and recognize,” said Chris Gautz, spokesman for the department. “And we are, we’re doing a lot. But we need to make sure that people understand that and that we’re trying to help.”

Gautz said the findings, “weren’t necessarily surprising, but they were heartbreaking” and that the department has been working on solutions for some time. He pointed to a new Employee Wellness Unit, which provides confidential mental health support.

“Everybody is kind of pushing in the right direction, in the same direction it seems,” Gautz said. “And everybody is committed to trying to further reduce suicides and some of the major issues that the survey found amongst our staff.”

Employees said being assaulted, not getting enough time off, and having problems with superiors are some of the reasons for their depression.

One employee is cited in the report saying, “I’m more stressed than I’ve ever been and don’t know how much more I can take before I just snap.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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