The Factors Impacting Mental Health Outcomes Of Incarcerated Adults And The Effectiveness Of Individual, Group, And Community Level Interventions In Responding To Mental Health Needs Of Inmates

This thesis project examines how incarceration effects the mental health status of incarcerated adults. More than half of the individuals who are incarcerated have been diagnosed with a mental illness and do not receive adequate treatment for it. The excessive rise of the mentally ill within the criminal justice system is attributed to the lack of mental health treatment at the community level, which results in the mentally ill partaking in illegal activity and becoming criminalized. Through incarceration, individuals may develop symptoms, exacerbate symptoms, and lead to unaddressed and untreated mental illnesses while residing in a high stress environment. A literature review of twenty-five articles was conducted to explore the factors associated with poor mental health outcomes among adult inmates. Four key factors were found including: access barriers to treatment, lack of treatment options available at the community level and prisons, and inmates’ attitudes towards help seeking and perception of inmates regarding mental health treatment. A second literature review of 20 articles identified the individual, group, and community level interventions that have been effective with this specific population. The studies include diversion programs, individual therapy, group therapy and community level interventions. The most effective intervention for this population was found to be Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This project concludes with implications for practice and future research within the criminal justice system.