Objective: The population of women in prison, although small, has been steadily increasing over the last few decades. Women in prison are more likely to suffer mental illness while incarcerated. This leads to poor outcomes during and after incarceration. Mentally ill women in prison often lack access to quality treatment. Mental health interventions targeted towards women is vital to improving outcomes, enhancing quality of life, and decreasing burden on the criminal justice system. The goal of this study is to conduct a rapid systematic review on empirically tested interventions to improve the mental health of women in prison.
Methods: A rapid systematic review was conducted to answer the following two questions: (1) What interventions designed to improve mental health of incarcerated women have been empirically tested, and (2) what are the effects of these interventions on women’s mental health in prison?
Results: 30 articles were identified and six met inclusion criteria. Five unique mental health interventions for incarcerated women were reviewed from those six articles. The interventions are discussed for their findings and limitations.
Conclusion: Interventions for mental health can have a significant impact during incarceration, particularly if an intervention is introduced early in a woman’s sentence. Results support the need for further research on effective mental health interventions for incarcerated women, especially for women with longer sentences. Suggestions for future research are addressed within, including collaboration between correctional health providers and researchers.
Recommended CitationRichter, Brendan and Romney, JD, MPH, MS, RN, BSN, Martha, "Mental Health Interventions for U.S. Women in Prison: A Rapid Review" (2020). Master of Public Health Thesis and Capstone Presentations. Presentation 314.