Corrections Staff Wellness: A Team LIFT Approach

Corrections Staff Wellness: A Team LIFT Approach
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-10-17
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Corrections Staff Wellness: A Team LIFT Approach
Unit 2Transcript: Corrections Staff Wellness: A Team LIFT Approach
Unit 3Workbook: Corrections Staff Wellness: A Team LIFT Approach
Unit 4Recording: Corrections Staff Wellness: A Team LIFT Approach

When we think about corrections settings, the last thing we associate with it is the idea of wellness. Jails and prisons tend to paint a picture of gloom, isolation, and discipline and chaos at the same time. Ronna Martin from the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC) witnessed how corrections staff struggled in the profession and made it her mission to change this and empower the staff through wellness.

Ronna is an Executive Administrator at LMDC who began in an entry-level role in 2013. She has since progressed into leadership roles where she was given the responsibility of spearheading their wellness program and women’s leadership development initiative.

Specifics of Ronna’s presentation include:

  • The challenges of creating a wellness program emphasizing the need to break down tasks and involve a diverse team for success.
  • Ronna’s experience in corrections which highlighted the disconnect between staff and administration and inspired her to work on initiatives that help bridge the gap.
  • LMDC’s participation in the Correctional Leadership Development (CLD) training, leading to the formation of a staff wellness program focusing on mental health and retention issues.
  • The steps taken and tools utilized during the CLD project development.
    • Identifying the current state and evaluating available resources to see what can be leveraged, improved, and developed.
    • Conducting a force field analysis which identified the factors for and against the project as well as barriers to staff wellness programs.
    • Zeroing in on mindset and stigma surrounding trauma.
  • An overview of Dr. Daniel Amen’s work that was able to articulate which activities in certain parts of the brain are associated with trauma.
  • The concept of the Reticular Activating System (RAS) and how our beliefs shape our brains’ filtering system which then impacts biases surrounding trauma and its management.
  • How procrastination may manifest as endless planning without action and the need to use up our energy on actionable steps instead of lingering in analysis paralysis.
  • The Team LIFT project aimed to expand beyond peer support, foster collaboration and build community partnerships, and focus on holistic health and wellness connections.
  • The process of building a wellness program and what it took to activate burnt-out wellness team members to work on the initiative amidst the COVID pandemic.
  • The eight dimensions of wellness and creating a wellness program that encompasses all of these.
  • The pillars of Team LIFT that enabled team members to engage across different actionable initiatives that are based on their skills, talents, bandwidth, and commitment level.
  • Guardrails when starting a wellness team that looks into:
    • Programming that breaks stigma, provides support without overwhelming commitment, helps staff find work/life balance, addresses biases and trauma, offers a safe space for discussion, and fosters a healthier organizational culture.
    • Seeking out interested parties through surveys and conversations, identifying existing resources, and exploring barriers.
    • Utilizing the Marketing Rule of 7s to advertise the program and the opportunities available through it.
  • The importance of taking a step towards creating a wellness team and program that takes into account your unique needs despite initial challenges and lack of resources.

Points raised during the Q&A are on:

  • Stigma around utilizing Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and how it impacts promotability.
  • Physical manifestations of trauma, beyond just behavioral and emotional effects.
  • How sharing personal trauma experiences within a trusted network lightens one’s emotional burden.
  • The frequency of team meetings.
  • Distinguishing between a wellness program and a peer support program.
  • How having a partial wellness program is better than none.
  • The peer support team’s duties being in addition to their regular responsibilities.
  • Whether Kentucky has a statute that makes peer support interactions privileged for certified peer support officers.


Other Webinars with this Speaker


Or, click here to register and view other Jail/Corrections related webinars and recordings on the JCH website.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “This was the best training I attended. I am very interested in bringing this information back to my team. An honest and powerful approach to wellness that genuinely felt like survivors are at the center of the work.” — Victoria
  • “The whole topic was interesting and informative.” — Joe
  • “Excellent presentation on the absolute need for mental wellness and how to identify and overcome challenges when implementing the program.” —  Travis
  • “Thank you Ronna for stepping up and out to promote Corrections Staff Wellness.” — Suzette
  • “Learning about the Diamond Brain was very interesting and informative, would love to continue to learn more about this!” — Sarah
  • “I really enjoyed the conversation about talent-based teams.” — Stacy
  • “I loved that the presenter was so transparent with her own situation. I think it will allow others to deal more honestly with their on issues and/or look at their own wellness differently. Impactful presentation!!” — Monyca
  • “It was a great presentation; Ronna was genuine, and her style was simple to easily comprehend. — Hiba
  • “Sooo motivating, encouraging and simplified for new be’s.” — Erikka
  • “Ronna is the best and can summarize things so well! Best closing statement ever!” — BRENDA
  • “Presenter was fabulous” — Denise



The American Jail Association (AJA) is a national, nonprofit organization that supports the professionals who operate our Nation’s jails. It is the only national association that focuses exclusively on issues specific to the operations of local correctional facilities. The driving force behind the phenomenal growth of AJA is its members. AJA has taken a leadership role in developing the type of programs that promote the professional growth of the dedicated men and women who operate our Nation’s jails.  Jail staff have the responsibility for the management of people who have been charged with violating our laws and often mock the ideals on which AJA was founded. Jail personnel find themselves sorely tested each day in the jail environment when they receive scorn and derision for their loyalty and perseverance under extremely trying circumstances.  AJA takes this opportunity to salute the jail staff of the Nation who, by their dedication to the difficult task of local corrections, have made a vital, positive difference to the welfare of the communities they serve.  Click here to learn more about AJA. 



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