Mentoring in corrections has a long history; health mentoring in corrections is a new idea, aimed at making a difference in new officers’ health and well-being during their first year on the job. The Health Improvement Through Employee Control II (HITEC II) Mentoring Program compares two approaches to health mentoring: the standard and the personalized approaches. People in both groups engage in brief physical tests, fill out questionnaires and have access to customized health information. Additionally, graduates from designated training academy classes – the personalized follow-up groups – receive personal mentors, correctional officers who are willing to share their time, experience and knowledge with new officers.
Mentors help their mentees develop personal goals, career goals and health/fitness goals, and they help their mentees reach these goals by providing encouragement, being positive role models, offering guidance and sometimes agreeing to work together on similar goals. Mentors are not supervisors, evaluators or trainers; rather, they are like trusted friends and confidants. Mentors receive training and ongoing supervision from HITEC II staff at UConn Health.
Thanks to the 79 officers, so far, who have volunteered to become mentors in several facilities across the state, the Mentoring Program is off to a great start with 76 assigned mentees.
About half of the new officers who joined the HITEC II study now have mentors. However, we still need more volunteers, and mentor recruitment and training continues.
If you think you might be interested in becoming a mentor, please contact Dana Farr at UConn Health at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-679-3857 for more information.