GUIDE Mobile App Aims to Support Correctional Officer Mental Health

By CN Staff

SCRANTON, Pa.—In the face of mental health concerns that correctional officers can frequently navigate, GUIDE, an award-winning wellness and resilience mobile app, is a potential solution to prioritize the mental and emotional well-being of these officers. Recent statistics reveal a harsh reality, including studies indicating correctional officers are at a higher risk for depression, PTSD, and suicide. This underscores the urgent need for proactive and effective mental health support within the correctional officer community.

In a recent pilot study, GUIDE has demonstrated significant success. This unique platform is tailored to empower individuals in high-stress professions, including correctional officers, by providing daily wellness practices, micro-learning courses, and anonymous small peer support groups.

“Correctional officers face unparalleled challenges, and the rising rates of suicidal thoughts are a distressing reminder of the urgent need for targeted solutions. We deliver a member experience that neutralizes common fears by never collecting personal identifying information and prioritizing security through Okta, a leader in login security. Correctional officers need new, proactive solutions to support them in the challenging roles they play. GUIDE is not just an app; it’s a lifeline for those who maintain order and provide security within correctional facilities,” said Patrick Sandone, Founder and CEO of GUIDE.

GUIDE’s pilot study, conducted with members of various high-stress professions, showcased remarkable results. The study was completed over one month where sixteen testers were asked to interact with the app twelve times. Participants demonstrated consistent engagement with the app, with 75 percent completing at least one lesson and small group post each week, while 59 percent posted at least one small group comment weekly. On average, participants completed 26 lessons over four weeks, posting a total of 433 small group posts and 182 comments. The engagement varied among participants, but the overall findings suggest encouraging usage patterns and interaction with the app.

Consistent app use was hypothesized to lead to increased positive emotions, engagement, relationships, etc., and decreased negative emotions, loneliness, and anxiety was supported by the results. Scores on the PERMA increased and decreased in predicted areas (Goal-Oriented Behavior increased, on average, by 15 percent and Negative Emotions decreased, on average, by 11 percent). PWS results supported the decrease in Anxiety scores (29 percent, on average). Results suggest longer app use might lead to significant changes in Life Satisfaction, Worthwhile, and Happiness.

The study used an analysis of well-being measures to conduct its research, PERMA and PWS. PERMA is a well-being scale that stands for positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. The Personal Wellbeing Score (PWS) is a four-item measure designed to assess an individual’s own perceptions of their wellness.

Victoria Stewart, a clinical psychologist specializing in PTSD and co-author of the pilot study’s white paper, expressed optimism about the app’s potential impact. “Significant changes in well-being with a small sample size promote optimism about future studies with larger sample sizes and longer app usage durations. It shows promise of enhancing the validity and success of the app.”

To further validate and expand on these promising results, GUIDE has partnered with the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Center for Mental Health for an extensive and comprehensive clinical trial. This collaboration aims to deepen understanding and efficacy, offering hope for a transformative solution to the correctional officers’ wellness crisis.