Psychosocial stress experienced by correctional officials

Le Tape, Andre Rhyno (2001-12)

On t.p.: Master in Social Work (Welfare Programme Management)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study attempts to gain insight into the nature of psychosocial stress experienced by correctional officials. In order to achieve this, a literature study was undertaken regarding the nature of psychosocial stress from an ecological perspective as well as strategies that the occupational social worker, management and central government can employ to address stress experienced by correctional officials. Secondly, an empirical study was undertaken and information on the research topic was obtained from correctional officials that worked on the sections inside prisons and who worked directly with inmates. The study indicated that low motivation amongst colleagues, insufficient salaries and bad collegial co-operation were factors that had a major influence on psychosocial stress experienced by correctional officials. Factors such as family responsibilities as opposed to work responsibilities; drug-or alcohol abuse as well as physical constraints have less of an impact on psychosocial stress. It was furthermore found that the need for confidentiality, guidance in stress management and emotional support enjoys a high priority with correctional officials regarding social worker intervention. Issues such as the need that the social worker should form part of a multi-disciplinary team or that he/she should mobilise their colleagues and supervisors for support enjoyed a lesser preference with correctional officials. With regard to the role of management it was found that correctional officials require that management should primarily provide more promotional opportunities and should develop a more satisfactory merit system. Dissatisfaction with the Department of Correctional Services' Employee Assistance Programme and the present shift system were less of a concern to correctional officials. It was concluded that that stressors experienced by correctional officials are varied and include feelings of anger, depression and a general dissatisfaction with managerial styles and certain departmental actions and procedures. It was also very evident that many correctional officials felt that they do not have an appropriate avenue to deal with their stress. If this situation prevails, it was concluded that it will exacerbate correctional officials' poor social functioning. With regard to social worker intervention it was concluded that the vast majority of correctional officials are in dire need of social work intervention to assist them in effectively dealing with stress. It was further concluded that the Department of Correctional Services does not have sufficient structures in place to support correctional officials during stressful periods. Management has a vital role to play in supporting correctional officials when coping with psychosocial stress. If the present situation remains unattended to by management it may impede correctional officials' ability to deal with stress. Recommendations by respondents also indicated a low level of involvement by management in the practical stressors which correctional officials may face. It was also concluded that present attempts by management to deal with psychosocial stress effectively through the induction of an Employee Assistance Programme and the longstanding grievance procedure, have severe practical limitations. Recommendations were made to the social worker, management and central government regarding effectively addressing psychosocial stress experienced by correctional officials working on sections and who are primarily responsible for the guarding of inmates.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie studie is ondersoek ingestel na die aard van psigo-sosiale stres wat deur korrektiewe beamptes ervaar word. Ten einde hierin te slaag,is eerstens 'n literatuurstudie onderneem ten opsigte van die aard van psigo-sosiale stres vanuit 'n ekologiese perspektief. Daar is ook gekyk na strategieë wat die bedryfsmaatskaplike werker, bestuur sowel as die sentrale regering kan aanwend om psigo-sosiale stres wat deur korrektiewe beamptes ervaar word aan te spreek. Daarna is 'n empieriese studie onderneem deur vraelyste aan korrektiewe beamptes te stuur wat direk op seksies binne in gevangenis met gevangenes werksamig is. Die navorsing het aangedui dat lae motivering onder kollegas,onvoldoende salarisse en swak kollegiale samewerking die grootste bydraende faktor is tot psigososialestres wat deur korrektiewe beamptes ervaar word. Faktore soos alkohol- of dwelmmisbruik en liggaamlike gebreke oefen In mindere invloed uit op psigososiale stres wat deur korrektiewe beamptes ervaar word. Met betrekking tot die behoefte aan maatskaplike intervensie is daar bevind dat vertroullkheld, leiding in stres hantering en emosionele steun die hoogste prioriteit by korrektiewe beamptes geniet. Faktore soos die behoefte dat die maatskaplike werker deel moet vorm van 'n multi-dissiplinêre span of dat hy/sy die korrektiewe beampte se kollegas en supervisors moet mobiliseer vir ondersteuning, het 'n mindere prioriteit by korrektiewe beamptes geniet. Met betrekking tot die rol van bestuur, is daar gevind dat korrektiewe beamptes meer bevorderings geleenthede en 'n verbeterde meriete stelsel van bestuur verwag. Ontevredenheid met die Departement van Korrektiewe Dienste se werknemer bystandsprogram (WBP) en die huidige skofstelsel was 'n laer prioriteit vir korrektiewe beamptes. Die gevolgtrekking is gemaak dat stressors wat ervaar word deur korrektiewe beamptes uiteenlopend van aard is en dit sluit in gevoelens van depressie, woede sowel as 'n algemene ontevredenheid met bestuurstyle en sekere departementele aksies en prosedures. Dit was ook baie duidelik dat baie korrektiewe beamptes nie 'n geskikte hulpmiddel het om hulle in staat te stelom psigososiale stres effektief te hanteer nie. Indien die huidige situasie bly voortbestaan, kan korrektiewe beamptes se swak maatskaplike funksionering verder belemmer word. Met betrekking tot maatskaplike werk intervensie ,is gevind dat die oorgrote meerderheid van korrektiewe beamptes 'n noodsaaklike behoefte daartoe het dat die maatskaplike werker hulle moet ondersteun om psigososiale-stres effektief te hanteer. Voorts is die gevolgtrekking gemaak dat die Departement van Korrektiewe I Dienste nie oor toereikende strukture beskik om die korrektiewe beampte te ondersteun tydens stresvolle tydperke nie. Bestuur het 'n noodsaaklike rol in die ondersteuning van die korrektiewe beampte in sy/haar hantering van psigososiale stres. Indien die huidige situasie nie voldoende deur bestuur aangespreek word nie, kan dit die korrektiewe beampte se vermoë om psigososiale-stres te hanteer verder strem. Aanbevelings deur respondente het ook 'n lae vlak van betrokkenheid deur bestuur aangedui by die praktiese stressors wat korrektiewe beamptes mag ervaar. Die gevolgtrekking is ook gemaak dat huidige pogings deur bestuur om psigososiale stres aan te spreek deur middel van 'n werknemer bystandsprogram en die reeds gevestigde griewe prosedure, grootskaalse beperkings het. Aanbevelings is aan maatskaplike werkers,bestuur en die sentrale regering gemaak oor hoe om psigososiale stres wat deur korrektiewe beamptes werksaam op seksies binne in gevangenisse en wat primêr vir die bewaking van gevangenes verantwoordelik is, aan te spreek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52422
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