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TDCJ Department Offers Employees Peer Support

When a critical incident happens at a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) facility, many employees are unsure of who to turn to for support in dealing with the situation. That’s where the agency’s new Employee Support Services (ESS) department comes into play.

After TDCJ leadership determined more could be done to help employees when an incident happens at their workplace, the Victim Services Division began the process of establishing the new section. ESS assists TDCJ employees after a crisis by providing peer support, information and referrals, critical incident support and debriefing, training, and follow-up sessions. By May 2022, the section had expanded to include a manager and six regional Crisis Response Intervention Support Program (CRISP) coordinators. The response from TDCJ employees has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The goal of Employee Support Services is to coordinate responses to support all agency staff during a crisis,” said TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier. “While stress and sometimes trauma are inherent in the job that many of our employees perform on a daily basis, we want them to know that they are not alone in dealing with those experiences.”

The ESS CRISP coordinators are in each of the six regions of the Correctional Institutions Division and provide support and assistance to all agency staff that need it. They are available to meet via phone, video conference, or in person. The CRISP coordinators have experience in correctional service and are trained in peer support and crisis intervention. They help connect employees to additional resources and services but are not a replacement for mental health counseling or therapy. Instead, the goal is to equip staff with the skills and knowledge for managing the stress of the job to maintain the quality of life both on and off-duty.

ESS CRISP coordinators collaborate with other agency crisis response teams such as the CRISP Peer Support Team, Staff Impact Teams, and Regional Victim Services Coordinator to provide peer support to employees across the agency.

For more information, including contact information, visit the Employee Support Services webpage.