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Poster attached as supplemental file below


The United States has the highest incarceration rate globally, with over 1.2 million people incarcerated as of 2022. Correctional facilities encompass two primary structures, namely jails and prisons, with the latter being the focal point of this review. People who are incarcerated have a high prevalence of substance use disorders and mental health disorders. In 2021, 74% of people who are incarcerated were diagnosed with co-occurring disorders. Notably, marijuana stands out as the most prevalent substance abused among incarcerated populations. In the year 2021, people within correctional settings were commonly diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, characterized by concurrent mental health and substance use disorders. Recently, research has been done to assess the effectiveness of mental health services in treating people who are incarcerated with a history of substance use disorder. In this rapid systematic review, I synthesized literature regarding the effectiveness of mental health services for people who are incarcerated with a history of substance use disorder in the United States. A total of 1749 articles were screened by title and abstract from PubMed and Google Scholar, yielding six papers relevant for this review. Data extracted measured treatment outcomes including recidivism rates, criminal activity, relapse, mental health recovery as a result of the six interventions. Five of the studies revealed that the interventions had positive effects on treatment outcomes. Integrating therapeutic community and cognitive behavioral interventions improved mental health recovery, recidivism rates, and criminal activity. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (MI/CBT) and Relaxation Training plus Substance Education was not effective in reducing criminal activity. The findings highlight the importance of comprehensive mental health services tailored to the specific needs of people who are incarcerated with a history of substance use disorder, emphasizing the potential for positive outcomes and the importance for ongoing investment in such services after incarceration.

Lay Summary

In the United States, a lot of people are in prison, more than anywhere else in the world. There are over 1.2 million people in prison as of 2022. The focus of this review is on prisons. Many people in prison struggle with drug addiction and mental health issues. In 2021, more than half of people in prison were diagnosed with both conditions at the same time.

Interestingly, marijuana is the most commonly used substance among those in jail or prison. Also, in 2021, many people in jail/prison had both mental health illnesses and drug addiction at the same time. Recently, research has been done on this and I will combine the results in my review to determine effectiveness. In this brief review, I looked at a few studies about how effectively mental health services works for those with mental illness in the United States. Specifically, I reviewed 1,749 articles from PubMed and Google Scholar, and I found six that were relevant to this review. These articles looked at how often people went back to prison after getting help, whether they kept using drugs, and if they felt better mentally. Overall, the mental health services were shown to be effective in five of the six studies. They discovered that interventions such as brain training workshops and group therapy had a significant impact on reducing the rate at which people went back to prison and becoming better mentally. However, one study found that substance education and memory therapy was less effective at reducing criminal behavior.

In summary this review shows that it is important to give people in prison the right kind of help for their mental health and drug addiction. When we do, it can lead to good things like fewer people going back to jail and feeling better mentally. So, it's a big deal to keep investing in these kinds of services even after someone gets out of prison.