Older incarcerated persons are a rapidly growing population with considerable mental health needs. We evaluated perceived worth and meaningfulness in life as mediators in the relationship between self-rated health (SRH) and depression and anxiety.
Mediation analyses were conducted among 222 older incarcerated males from eight correctional facilities in Connecticut.PHQ-9 and GAD-7 assessed depression and anxiety, respectively. Subscales of the Geriatric Suicidal Ideation Scale (GSIS) measured perceived worth and meaningfulness in life.
Greater SRH was associated with lower depression and anxiety. More perceived worth and meaningfulness in life were associated with better SRH and lower depression and anxiety. There is evidence of perceived worth and meaningfulness in life mediating the SRH-depression (β = −0.86; 95% CI = −1.32 to −0.48; β= −0.46, 95% CI = −0.82 to −0.17, respectively) and SRH-anxiety (β = −0.71; 95% CI = −1.08 to −0.39; β = −0.34, 95% CI = −0.65 to −0.10) relationships.
SRH has both direct and indirect effects on depression and anxiety, by working through perceived worth and meaningfulness in life, in older incarcerated males. Assessing SRH, and focusing on ways to maintain self-worth and meaning, may be instrumental in promoting and sustaining their good mental health.