Study finds litany of mental health issues at Vermont prison

WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) — Staff and inmates at the Vermont state prison in Springfield have high rates of suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, according to a survey conducted by University of Vermont researchers.

According to the survey done last June, 49% of staff at the Southern State Correctional Facility developed anxiety since starting their career, 46% developed depression, 43% became overweight or obese, 40% developed high blood pressure and 39% developed post-traumatic stress disorder, The Times Argus reported.

The study found 10% of staff seriously considered suicide at some point in the past 12 months.

The study found that 70% of the inmate population developed anxiety, 65% developed depression and 55% developed post-traumatic stress disorder. The survey also found 36% of them seriously considered suicide in the past year.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Nicholas Deml said the report was “concerning” and “disturbing,” but state officials now have a better understanding of what issues need to be addressed.

The survey is part of the Prison Research and Innovation Network, a consortium of five states working on a model of transparency, accountability and innovations in prisons. The other states participating are Delaware, Iowa, Missouri and Colorado.