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Faires Faculty Forum: Professor looks at mental health of frontline workers in incarcerated settings

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Posted on Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Dr. Jamie Chapman, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Westminster College, will present “Perspectives of Frontline Mental Health Workers in Incarcerated Settings” at the Faires Faculty Forum at 11:40 a.m. Wednesday, April 7, via Zoom.

Chapman will discuss her findings that analyze the experiences of correction officers and nurses working in incarcerated settings—both jails and prisons. Chapman conducted 20 interviews to learn about their lived experiences in these occupations, and about how they process their job-related stress, given that they are working in a system that is experiencing a mental health crisis during a time of mass incarceration.

Chapman said the preliminary analysis for this ongoing project suggests that the following experiences are prevalent among these frontline mental health workers in incarcerated settings: unique stressors associated with the dynamics of balancing the occupational roles within an overburdened system, work-family stress spillover and frequent experiences of workplace trauma that lead to high rates of burnout.

Chapman’s research was funded through Westminster’s Ruth and George Watto Grant Award. Additionally, she was able to employ two Westminster students as research assistants through this project. These students also completed secondary data analyses that contributed to their own research projects.

Chapman, who joined the Westminster faculty in 2014, earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in social sciences from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She went on to earn her doctorate in sociology from the University of Akron. Chapman specializes in studying mental health and the social institution of the family.

The Faires Faculty Forum was established in 1990 by Dr. Barbara Faires, Westminster professor of mathematics emerita, during her term as dean of the College and vice president for academic affairs.  Faculty members from all disciplines volunteer to present lectures on their current research, artistic productions, and scholarship of teaching and learning.  Each forum presents new ideas with innovative lecture techniques.

Contact Chapman at 724-946-6302 or for additional information on her research about the relationship between mental health and incarceration.

Zoom links will be emailed to current and emeritus faculty prior to the forum. For others who wish to attend, please contact Dr. Erin Wilson, faculty development officer, at to obtain a link.

For more information about Westminster's sociology major, click here. For more about Westminster's criminal justice studies major, click here.