The U.S. Bureau of Prisons purchased a number of Facebook ads recently in an attempt to hire new people in a variety of roles throughout the country. But one ad in particular is catching attention on social media for how bleak it seems. The Bureau of Prisons seems to be using the number of mental illnesses in the U.S. prison system as a career opportunity for any psychologists who happen to be job hunting right now.
“Flip to any DSM page. Whatever disorder you land on, you’ll find it here,” an image accompanying one of the new Facebook ads reads, referring to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The ad attributes the quote to Dr. Jamila Thomas, a regional psychologist who’s been with the Bureau of Prisons for over 10 years, according to her LinkedIn profile.
“The clinical diversity you find at the Federal Bureau of Prisons is far beyond private practice. See for yourself. Join us,” the ad continues.
Roughly 37% of prisoners in the U.S. have mental health issues, according to the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, with over 2.1 million Americans currently serving time, according to the BBC. China has the second largest number of prisoners, with 1.5 million, but it also has a general population of over four times the U.S. at 1.4 billion people. Russia rounds out the top three with more than 870,000 prisoners.
The Bureau of Prisons is clearly on a hiring spree, with ads seeking new employees in Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Washington, and Colorado, to name a few. Many of the ads are similar, as you can see in the screenshot below, with just the name of the city and state swapped out.
There are also ads listed on Facebook for volunteers to teach computer literacy, math, and reading. But those ads seem to highlight the desire to do good in a community rather than celebrating just how many mental illnesses you’ll encounter while working behind bars.
The Bureau of Prisons didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment early Monday. Gizmodo will update this article if we hear back.
Update: Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Donald Murphy sent a statement:
The market research conducted and used to design the campaign to recruit Psychologists into the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) indicated potential applicants were interested in the opportunity to work with patients with a variety of mental health diagnoses. The purpose of our ad is to highlight to candidates the many opportunities available for clinical diversity. Our psychologists are dedicated to treating inmates with mental illness and oftentimes are the first to ever address the mental health needs of those who enter our custody. The BOP is committed to increasing the access our population has to high quality mental health services and our ad campaign is intended to draw great applicants to apply. To provide additional context and background, we welcome you to watch the psychology recruitment video in its entirety.