Prison-Based Interventions for Early Adults with Mental Health Needs: A Systematic Review [2020]

Rates of mental health needs of incarcerated young adults (15–35 year olds) are concerning, however, mental health interventions targeting this population are under studied. This article systematically reviews published, peer-reviewed research in nine databases pertaining to mental health interventions for incarcerated young adults. Only original studies conducted in the United States and determined to be valid though NIH assessment tools were included in this analysis. The review includes 19 original studies testing 14 intervention programs exploring mental health outcomes such as depression, PTSD, self-harm, and bipolar symptoms. Overall, findings were mixed about the impact of reviewed programs. The variety of interventions, outcomes, study settings, and implementation procedures complicates the ability to determine the impact of mental health programming in carceral settings. This review also reveals the lack of depth and replication of research in this area. Findings suggest additional efforts are needed to establish efficacy and best practices when treating mental health needs among this population.

Ashley Givens, Kimberly Moeller, Terence L. Johnson
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, August 25, 2020