Reduce Aggression with Mindfulness

Reduce Aggression with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

young adults who participated in an app-based meditation training were less aggressive after receiving critical feedback, but not less angry. It suggests that being mindful doesn’t interfere with experiencing emotions, but changes how one responds to them.” – AMRA

 

The human tendency to lash out with aggression when threatened was adaptive for the evolution of the species. It helped promote the survival of the individual, the family, and the tribe. In the modern world, however, this trait has become more of a problem than an asset. It results in individual violence and aggression such as physical abuse, fights, road rage, and even murders, and in societal violence such as warfare. It may even be the basis for the horrors of terrorism and mass murder. Obviously, there is a need in modern society to control these violent and aggressive urges.

 

Aggression may, at least in part, be amplified by anger rumination; an uncontrollable, repetitive thinking about anger and its sources. This can produce a downward spiral where people repeatedly think about their anger which, in turn, reinforces the anger making it worse and worse. It is like a record that’s stuck and keeps repeating the same lyrics. It’s replaying a dispute in the individual’s mind. It’s going over their anger, again and again. Fortunately, rumination may be interrupted by mindfulness and mindfulness may improve the individual’s ability to regulate their emotions. This may, in part, be a mechanism by which mindfulness training reduces aggression and hostility. Hence, mindfulness may be an antidote to violent and aggressive urges by interrupting anger rumination and improving emotion regulation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Emotion regulation mediates relationships between mindfulness facets and aggression dimensions.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6916265/), Garofalo and colleagues recruited adult prisoners and a community sample of adult nonoffenders. They then had them complete measures of mindfulness, emotion regulation, and aggressiveness.

 

Correlational analysis revealed that in both the offender and nonoffender samples, the higher the levels of mindfulness, the higher the levels of emotion regulation and the lower the levels of aggressiveness. In addition, the higher the levels of emotion regulation the lower the levels of aggressiveness. Further, structural equation modelling revealed that in both the offender and nonoffender samples that emotion regulation mediated the relationship between mindfulness and aggressiveness. That is, the mindfulness was not associated with aggressiveness directly but rather mindfulness was associated with higher levels of emotion regulation which, in turn, was associated with lower levels of aggressiveness.

 

These findings are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But, prior research has shown a causal connection between mindfulness and higher levels of emotion regulation and that emotion regulation has a causal connection to lower aggressiveness and that mindfulness has a causal connection to lower aggressiveness. So, it is likely that the present findings are the results of causal links between mindfulness, emotion regulation, and aggressiveness.

 

Hence, the present results suggest that being mindful goes along with having better ability to regulate emotions and that goes along with less aggressiveness. Emotion regulation is not suppression of emotions rather it is the ability to feel the emotions but not let them dictate behavior; feeling emotions but remaining in control. Thus, the results suggest that aggressiveness may result from uncontrolled reactions to emotions and that mindfulness by improving emotion regulation reduces these responses.

 

It is interesting that the results were exactly the same for both prisoners and nonoffender adults. This suggests that there is nothing special about the mechanisms controlling aggressiveness in prisoners. Rather it would appear that prisoners have a lower level of emotion regulation. This implies that improving mindfulness and emotion regulation in prisoners would lead to greater control and less violence and aggression.

 

So, reduce aggression in with mindfulness.

 

When any emotion rises up, we tend to first get caught up in it and then act it out, through speech or action. This couldn’t be truer for the heightened emotion of anger. Meditation, though, can teach us how to change a rash, reactive mindset into a more considered, responsive, and productive one.” – Headspace

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Garofalo, C., Gillespie, S. M., & Velotti, P. (2020). Emotion regulation mediates relationships between mindfulness facets and aggression dimensions. Aggressive behavior, 46(1), 60–71. doi:10.1002/ab.21868

 

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed an increase of research on socio‐affective factors that can explain individual differences in aggressive tendencies across community and offender populations. Specifically, mindfulness and emotion regulation have emerged as important factors, which could also constitute important prevention and treatment targets. Yet, recent studies have advanced the possibility that mindfulness may also have a “dark” side, being associated with increased levels of aggression‐related variables, especially when accounting for the variance associated with emotion regulation. The present study sought to elucidate relationships among mindfulness, emotion regulation, and aggression dimensions (i.e., verbal and physical aggression, anger, and hostility) across violent offender (N = 397) and community (N = 324) samples. Results revealed expected associations between both mindfulness and emotion regulation and aggression dimensions, such that greater impairments in mindfulness and emotion regulation were related to increased levels of aggression across samples. Further, analyses of indirect effects revealed that a latent emotion dysregulation factor accounted for (i.e., mediated) relationships between mindfulness facets and aggression dimensions in both samples. Previously reported positive associations between the residual variance in mindfulness scales (i.e., controlling for emotion regulation) and aggression‐related variables were not replicated in the current samples. Taken together, findings suggest that mindfulness and emotion regulation have unequivocal relations with lower levels of aggression, and should therefore be considered as relevant targets for prevention and treatment programs aimed at reducing aggressive tendencies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6916265/

 

Reduce Stress and Substance Abuse in Ex-Prisoner HIV Patients with Yoga

Reduce Stress and Substance Abuse in Ex-Prisoner HIV Patients with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is an ideal exercise for people with HIV. It not only helps build muscle and energy, but also reduces stress.” – Matt McMillen

 

More than 35 million people worldwide and 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. These include a significant number of children and adolescents. In 1996, the advent of the protease inhibitor and the so-called cocktail changed the prognosis for HIV. Since this development a 20-year-old infected with HIV can now expect to live on average to age 69. Hence, living with HIV is a long-term reality for a very large group of people. People living with HIV infection experience a wide array of physical and psychological symptoms which decrease their perceived quality of life. The symptoms include chronic pain, muscle aches, anxiety, depression, weakness, fear/worries, difficulty with concentration, concerns regarding the need to interact with a complex healthcare system, stigma, and the challenge to come to terms with a new identity as someone living with HIV.

 

Incarcerated people are 5 times more likely to have HIV infection and also are much more likely to suffer from substance abuse problems. Dealing with these issues upon release from prison is essential for successful reintegration into society. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve psychological well-being, lower depression and strengthen the immune system of patients with HIV infection. Yoga practice has also been found to be effective in treating HIV and with substance abuse.  It is not known whether yoga can help with these HIV patients with substance abuse upon release from prison.

 

In today’s Research News article “A randomized trial of yoga for stress and substance use among people living with HIV in reentry.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6397425/), Wimberly and colleagues recruited adult HIV patients who had a history of substance abuse and who were recently released from prison. The participants were randomly assigned to either treatment as usual or to treatment as usual plus once a week for 12 weeks, 90-minute yoga practice. They were measured before and after training for perceived stress and substance abuse.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and treatment as usual the patients who practiced yoga had significant reductions in perceived stress and the percentage of days with substance abuse (20% for yoga participants vs. 41% for treatment as usual). The patients had difficulty attending yoga classes with an average attendance of 35% of the classes.

 

It is well documented that yoga practice reduces stress and is helpful in controlling substance abuse. The present results are encouraging in that they suggest that yoga practice may be helpful in reducing stress and substance abuse in this vulnerable group of HIV patients who had a history of substance abuse and who were recently released from prison. Finding ways to improve attendance would seem important, perhaps online yoga classes would help. Regardless, participation in yoga appears to improve the likelihood that these ex-prisoners will be able to deal with HIV infection and life outside of prison.

 

So, reduce stress and substance abuse in ex-prisoner HIV patients with yoga.

 

Drugs, I believe, are keeping me alive. But yoga,” he says, “keeps my spirit alive.” – Ken Lowstetter

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wimberly, A. S., Engstrom, M., Layde, M., & McKay, J. R. (2018). A randomized trial of yoga for stress and substance use among people living with HIV in reentry. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 94, 97–104. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2018.08.001

 

Highlights

– Compared stress and substance use outcomes of yoga versus treatment as usual.

– Participants included returning citizens with HIV and substance use problems.

– At three-months, the yoga group had reduced stress and slightly reduced substance use.

– Future research with this population can compare yoga with an active intervention.

Abstract

Background:

People in reentry from prison or jail (returning citizens) living with HIV and substance use problems often experience numerous stressors and are at high risk for resumed substance use. Interventions are needed to manage stress as a pathway to reduced substance use.

Objective:

This study explored the effect of a Hatha yoga intervention as compared to treatment as usual on stress and substance use among returning citizens living with HIV and substance use problems.

Methods:

Participants were randomized to either a 12-session, 90-minute weekly yoga intervention or treatment as usual. All participants were clients of a service provider for returning citizens that offered case management, health care, and educational classes. Outcomes included stress as measured by the Perceived Stress Scale at the completion of the yoga intervention (three-months) and substance use as measured by the Timeline Followback at one-month, two- months, and three-months.

Results:

Seventy-five people were enrolled, two of whom were withdrawn from the study because they did not have HIV. Of the 73 remaining participants, 85% participated in the three- month assessment. At three-months, yoga participants reported less stress than participants in treatment as usual [F (1,59)=9.24, p<.05]. Yoga participants reported less days of substance use than participants in treatment as usual at one-month, two-months, and three-months [X2 (1)= 11.13, p<.001].

Conclusion:

Yoga interventions for returning citizens living with HIV and substance use problems may reduce stress and substance use. This finding is tentative because the control group did not receive an intervention of equal time and intensity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6397425/

 

Improve the Behavior of Prisoners and Prison Staff with Mindfulness

Improve the Behavior of Prisoners and Prison Staff with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“I have seen how men in maximum security prison were able to support not only their own resilience, but also that of their guards, nurses, and other prison staff, through the practice of meditation, mindfulness, and deliberate kindness.” – Doug Carnine

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Prison: Experiences of Inmates, Instructors, and Prison Staff.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6745607/), Bouw and colleagues examine the effectiveness of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for prisoners. They recruited male prisoners, staff, and instructors from prisons in the Netherlands where the prisoners had attended an MBSR program. The MBSR program consisted of 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The prisoners were also encouraged to perform practice on their own for 45 minutes for 6 days per week.

 

The prisoners were administered a semi-structured interview to obtain the prisoners’ views of level of satisfaction and challenges regarding the program as well as potential effects on stress responsivity, coping style, impulse control, aggression, and self-esteem. The staff members and instructors were also interviewed about the effects or changes they observed in the inmates who underwent the intervention. The prisoners were highly appreciative of the program with 82% attending all MBSR sessions and 64% completing all homework assignments.

 

The prisoners reported that after the program they had significant decreases in both the frequency and intensity of experiencing anger, that they were better able to handle the anger when it did arise, and were more likely to seek solutions to the situation that evoked the anger. They also reported a significant reduction in their reactions to stress, that they were more likely to be relaxed, and less likely to be sad or silent after stress. The prisoners also reported that they were more likely to employ cognitive-oriented coping styles and less emotion-oriented coping styles after the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Finally, the prisoners reported a significant increase in self-esteem. The prison staff, and instructors reported that the prisoners had overall improvements in their behavior after the MBSR program including reduced stress responses, anger, aggressive behavior, and hostility and increased self-esteem, emotional stability, dealing with difficult emotions, problem solving skills, and regulation of aggression.

 

It has to be recognized that there was no control, comparison, condition. As such the results are open to confounding factors such as demand characteristics, placebo effects, time-based changes, etc. Nevertheless, the results are very encouraging. Even if they are due to confounding factors rather than the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, there was a significant improvement in the prisoners. From a practical standpoint that was the intent of the program in the first place.

 

So, improve the behavior of prisoners and prison staff with mindfulness.

 

“By working with both prisoners and correctional facilities professionals, mindfulness programs systematically transform the impact of our criminal justice system. Through cultivating greater awareness and compassion, mindfulness “encourages a shift away from fear-based and often anti-social or criminal strategies for meeting needs” – Prison Mindfulness Institute

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Bouw, N., Huijbregts, S., Scholte, E., & Swaab, H. (2019). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Prison: Experiences of Inmates, Instructors, and Prison Staff. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 63(15-16), 2550–2571. doi:10.1177/0306624X19856232

 

Abstract

Mindfulness intervention aims to reduce stress and to improve physical and mental health. The present study investigated feasibility and effectiveness of mindfulness intervention in a prison context, in both a qualitative and quantitative fashion. Specifically, the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention was investigated, in a retrospective pre–post design, in five Dutch prisons. Twenty-two inmates (out of 25 approached, mean age: 40.1 years (SD = 11.1), convicted of murder, manslaughter, sexual offenses, drug offenses, robbery with violence, and/or illegal restraint/kidnap, and sentenced to incarceration between 15 and 209 months (M = 5.5 years; SD = 3.8) took part in a semistructured interview after completion of the MBSR intervention. The interviews addressed level of satisfaction and challenges regarding the MBSR intervention as well as potential effects on stress responsivity, coping style, impulse control, aggression, and self-esteem. Ten staff members and four MBSR instructors were interviewed about their own practical issues experienced while providing or facilitating the MBSR intervention, and about the effects or changes they observed in the inmates who underwent the intervention. Both participants and instructors/prison staff reported improvements in all of the addressed domains and expressed satisfaction with the intervention. Challenges were mainly identified in practical issues regarding the organization of the intervention sessions. Future studies should investigate mindfulness in longitudinal randomly controlled designs, should strive for a multi-method approach, and distinguish inmates according to personality characteristics.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6745607/

 

Improve Prisoners’ Self-Directedness with Yoga

Improve Prisoners’ Self-Directedness with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga has changed my life in a lot of ways. I’m so glad I’m doing this, for the confidence-building and the physical aspects. I have mad anxiety—I’d give my life for a Xanax right now—but I don’t need it as much with yoga.” – Keri (Prisoner)

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners. Yoga practice, because of its mindfulness plus physical exercise characteristics, would seem to be ideal for the needs of an incarcerated population. Indeed, it has been shown to be beneficial for prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Imprisoning Yoga: Yoga Practice May Increase the Character Maturity of Male Prison Inmates.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6584840/), Kerekes and colleagues recruited male adult prisoners and randomly assigned them to 10 weeks, once a week, for 90 minutes of either yoga training or physical activity. They were measured before and after training for temperament (novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, and persistence) and character self-directedness, cooperativeness, and self-transcendence).

 

They found that both groups showed significant improvements in novelty seeking, harm avoidance, and self-directedness. The prisoners that practiced yoga had a significantly greater improvement in self-directedness than the physical exercise group. Hence it appears that engaging in exercise in general reduces novelty seeking and harm avoidance and increases self-directedness, but yoga practice produces greater improvements in self-directedness.

 

Engaging in exercise appears to be beneficial for male prisoners. Novelty seeking tends to drive impulsiveness that is a problem for prisoners. Thus, reducing novelty seeking should improve their behavior. Exercise also appears to increase the prisoner’s ability to control their behavior by increasing self-directedness. Yoga is a disciplined practice. So, it is no surprise that it would produce greater self-discipline in the practitioner. This should assist the prisoner in having greater control of their behavior, which should, in turn, improve their ability to function effectively in prison and in society when they are released.

 

So, improve prisoners’ self-directedness with yoga.

 

“[Prisoners] said that it’s improved their mental health and self-awareness. It’s allowed them to better handle the daily difficulties of life in prison. It’s taught them to “respond, not react.” It’s bolstered their relationships with other inmates and with their families outside the prison walls. It’s introduced them to mindfulness. It’s strengthened them mentally and physically. It’s given them a sense of inner peace. Yoga has radically changed these men’s lives for the better.” – Taylor O’Sullivan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kerekes, N., Brändström, S., & Nilsson, T. (2019). Imprisoning Yoga: Yoga Practice May Increase the Character Maturity of Male Prison Inmates. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 406. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00406

 

Abstract

Background: A specific personality profile, characterized by low character maturity (low scores on the self-directedness and cooperativeness character dimensions) and high scores on the novelty seeking temperament dimension of the temperament and character inventory (TCI), has been associated with aggressive antisocial behavior in male prison inmates. It has also been shown that yoga practiced in Swedish correctional facilities has positive effects on the inmates’ well-being and on risk factors associated with criminal recidivism (e.g., antisocial behavior). In this study, we aimed to investigate whether the positive effect of yoga practice on inmates’ behaviors could be extended to include eventual changes in their personality profile.

Methods: Male prison inmates (N = 111) in Sweden participated in a randomized controlled 10-week long yoga intervention trial. Participants were randomly assigned to either a yoga group (one class a week; n = 57) or a control group (free of choice weekly physical activity; n = 54). All the inmates completed the TCI questionnaire before and after the intervention period as part of an assessment battery.

Results: After the 10-week-long intervention period male inmates scored significantly lower on the novelty seeking and the harm avoidance and significantly higher on the self-directedness dimensions of the TCI. There was a significant medium strong interaction effect between time and group belonging for the self-directedness dimension of character favoring the yoga group.

Conclusion: A 10-week-long yoga practice intervention among male inmates in Swedish correctional facilities increased the inmates’ character maturity, improving such abilities as their capability to take responsibility, feel more purposeful, and being more self-acceptant—features that previously were found to be associated with decreased aggressive antisocial behavior.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6584840/

 

Improve Prisoner Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Prisoner Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It is truly within the reach of anyone to create an environment in which kindness and resilience can flourish. Even the most powerless among us—prisoners—have the ability to live mindfully and treat others with kindness and respect. In doing so, they are able to improve life and build resilience not just for themselves, but for other inmates, guards, and in fact everyone in their community.” – Doug Carnine

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Mindfulness Training on Emotional Health in Chinese Long-Term Male Prison Inmates.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345534/ ), Xu and colleagues recruited healthy prisoners and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 6-week program of a modified version of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). It was modified by replacing depression discussions with yoga practice. MBCT training occurred once a week for 2.5 hours and included practice on the prisoners own time. The mindfulness training involved sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy that is designed to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. The prisoners were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, mindfulness, and mood.

 

They found that at the time of pretest the higher the prisoner’s level of mindfulness the lower their levels of anxiety, depression, tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, confusion-bewilderment, and total mood disturbance. They also found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group the mindfulness training group had significant improvements in mindfulness, anxiety, depression, tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, confusion-bewilderment, or total mood disturbance.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) significantly improve the mental health of prisoners. This is important as better mental health may lead to better adjustment to life in prison and to life after release. This may lead to lower recidivism.

 

So, improve prisoner mental health with mindfulness.

 

“By working with both prisoners and correctional facilities professionals, mindfulness programs systematically transform the impact of our criminal justice system. Through cultivating greater awareness and compassion, mindfulness “encourages a shift away from fear-based and often anti-social or criminal strategies for meeting needs” – Prison Mindfulness Institute

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Xu, W., Jia, K., Liu, X., & Hofmann, S. G. (2016). The Effects of Mindfulness Training on Emotional Health in Chinese Long-Term Male Prison Inmates. Mindfulness, 7(5), 1044-1051.

 

Abstract

Long-term imprisonment can cause severe emotional problems, which in turn can trigger behavioral problems, self-harm, and suicide. Mindfulness-based intervention can enhance emotional health. This study investigated the effects of a 6-week mindfulness training program on the emotional health of long-term male Chinese prison inmates. Forty long-term male prisoners completed a pretest and posttest, with 19 in the mindfulness training group and 21 in the waitlist control group. The treatment group showed a significant improvement in mindfulness level, anxiety, depression, tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, confusion-bewilderment, and total mood disturbance. Implications and limitations of this study were discussed. These results support the use of a mindfulness-based intervention to enhance the emotional health of long-term male prison inmates.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345534/

 

Reduce Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates with Yoga

Reduce Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Ninety percent of the prison population will be released, and if we provide people with skills to reinforce the deeper good in their nature and their stronger, better selves while they are in prison, they will take that with them.” – Kath Meadows

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

Yoga practice, because of its mindfulness plus physical exercise characteristics, would seem to be ideal for the needs of an incarcerated population. Indeed, it has been shown to be beneficial for prisoners. In today’s Research News article “Yoga Practice Reduces the Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6129942/ ), Sfendla and colleagues recruited adult male and female prison inmates and randomly assigned them to either engage in 10 weeks, once a week for 90 minutes, of hatha yoga practice or free choice exercise, including gym, walking, basketball, or football. They were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, interpersonal sensitivity, hostility, obsessive-compulsive, psychoticism, paranoid ideation, phobic anxiety, and somatization.

 

They report that the yoga group significantly improved in global psychological symptoms and on each of the symptom dimensions. The exercise group also improved in global severity and all symptom dimensions except obsessive-compulsive, phobic anxiety, and somatization. In all cases the degree of improvement was greater in the yoga practice group and in the cases of obsessive-compulsive, phobic anxiety, and somatization the differences were statistically significant.

 

Hence, exercise in general and especially yoga practice significantly improved psychological distress levels in prison inmates. These results are particularly important as the yoga practice effects were compared to an appropriate active control condition. The results suggest that practicing yoga while in prison may improve the mental health of the prisoners and better prepare them for returning to society. It remains for future research to determine is the benefits are lasting or only occur in the immediate aftermath of training.

 

So, reduce psychological distress levels of prison inmates with yoga.

 

“We’ve got two and a quarter million people who are incarcerated and a 60 percent recidivism rate. That’s a dismal failure. So while we’ve got them, I think we should be allocating resources to give them the tools so that they don’t come back to prison.” – Jessica Rizzo

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Sfendla, A., Malmström, P., Torstensson, S., & Kerekes, N. (2018). Yoga Practice Reduces the Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 407. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00407

Abstract

Background: Psychiatric ill-health is prevalent among prison inmates and often hampers their rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is crucial for reducing recidivistic offending. A few studies have presented evidence of the positive effect of yoga on the well-being of prison inmates. The conclusion of those previous studies that yoga is an effective method in the rehabilitation process of inmates, and deserves and requires further attention.

Aims: The current study aimed to evaluate the effect of 10 weeks of yoga practice on the mental health profile, operationalized in the form of psychological distress, of inmates.

Methods: One hundred and fifty-two volunteer participants (133 men; 19 women) were randomly placed in either of two groups: to participate in weekly 90-min yoga class (yoga group) or a weekly 90-min free-choice physical exercise (control group). The study period lasted for 10 weeks. Prior to and at the end of the study period the participants completed a battery of self-reported inventories, including the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI).

Results: Physical activity (including yoga) significantly reduced the inmates’ levels of psychological distress. Yoga practice improved all primary symptom dimensions and its positive effect on the obsessive-compulsive, paranoid ideation, and somatization symptom dimensions of the BSI stayed significant even when comparing with the control group.

Conclusions: Yoga as a form of physical activity is effective for reducing psychological distress levels in prison inmates, with specific effect on symptoms such as suspicious and fearful thoughts about losing autonomy, memory problems, difficulty in making decisions, trouble concentrating, obsessive thought, and perception of bodily dysfunction.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6129942/

Improve Psychological Health of Youthful Criminal Offenders with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health of Youthful Criminal Offenders with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“strengthening attention through mindfulness training may be a key route for reducing recidivism among young offenders, and highlight the need to teach detained youth strategies to improve cognitive and emotional control in the stressful detainment environment.” – Christopher James

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

Most of the research to date involves adult offenders. Mindfulness training for juvenile offenders, though, has the potential to change the course of young lives. But, little is known about the effects of mindfulness training on juvenile offenders. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Young Offenders: a Scoping Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153893/ ), Simpson and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for youths involved with the criminal justice system. They found 13 articles, 11 peer reviewed and 2 not, of the effects of mindfulness training on incarcerated youths.

 

They report that the literature found mixed results with some showing significant effects while others failing to reach statistical significance. But, in general, they report that mindfulness training significantly improves emotion regulation, quality of life, and mental well-being, including reductions in stress and anxiety, and significant reductions in criminal propensity in the youths.

 

Self reports by the participants suggested that they feel more relaxed, better able to manage stress, better self-regulatory skills, improved self-awareness and more optimism about future prospects. They also reported improved relationships, valuing kindness shown by the teacher and being part of a supportive environment in which they felt respected and valued. In addition, they reported that the training helped them develop more positive relationships with staff, peers and family; feel more in control; and were better able to cope with difficult feelings and impulses. They especially appreciated being treated with care, respect and humaneness.

 

Hence, although the evidence is mixed the literature in the main suggests that mindfulness training is of great benefit to incarcerated youths, improving mental health and their abilities to cope with their environment and situation, and some suggestion that they would be less likely to commit a future crime. Obviously, more controlled research is needed with larger samples, but the current findings are encouraging and suggest that mindfulness training might contribute to helping turn these youths around in more productive directions.

 

So, improve psychological health of youthful criminal offenders with Mindfulness.

 

“Although we don’t have direct evidence for this yet, we hypothesize that this repeated practice can translate into maintaining a focus on pro-social or non-violent goals in the course of youths’ daily lives, amidst the harsh conditions of incarceration or in the context of anti-social peers” – Noelle Leonard

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Simpson, S., Mercer, S., Simpson, R., Lawrence, M., & Wyke, S. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Young Offenders: a Scoping Review. Mindfulness, 9(5), 1330–1343. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0892-5

 

Abstract

Youth offending is a problem worldwide. Young people in the criminal justice system have frequently experienced adverse childhood circumstances, mental health problems, difficulties regulating emotions and poor quality of life. Mindfulness-based interventions can help people manage problems resulting from these experiences, but their usefulness for youth offending populations is not clear. This review evaluated existing evidence for mindfulness-based interventions among such populations. To be included, each study used an intervention with at least one of the three core components of mindfulness-based stress reduction (breath awareness, body awareness, mindful movement) that was delivered to young people in prison or community rehabilitation programs. No restrictions were placed on methods used. Thirteen studies were included: three randomized controlled trials, one controlled trial, three pre-post study designs, three mixed-methods approaches and three qualitative studies. Pooled numbers (n = 842) comprised 99% males aged between 14 and 23. Interventions varied so it was not possible to identify an optimal approach in terms of content, dose or intensity. Studies found some improvement in various measures of mental health, self-regulation, problematic behaviour, substance use, quality of life and criminal propensity. In those studies measuring mindfulness, changes did not reach statistical significance. Qualitative studies reported participants feeling less stressed, better able to concentrate, manage emotions and behaviour, improved social skills and that the interventions were acceptable. Generally low study quality limits the generalizability of these findings. Greater clarity on intervention components and robust mixed-methods evaluation would improve clarity of reporting and better guide future youth offending prevention programs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153893/

 

Yoga Practice Can Improve Prisoner Well-Being and Improve Rehabilitation

Yoga Practice Can Improve Prisoner Well-Being and Improve Rehabilitation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Inmates are more likely to be dealing with negative emotions—anxiety, fear, despair, anger, depression, and trauma—than a practitioner not behind bars. With a present reality that hinges on past events, as well as an environment of hostility and potential danger, yoga presents an opportunity to break through from the cycles of negative thoughts and emotions that further imprison the self. Yoga presents an opportunity for a form of freedom.” – Pauline Busson

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

Yoga practice, because of its mindfulness plus physical exercise characteristics, would seem to be ideal for the needs of an incarcerated population. Indeed, it has been shown to be beneficial for prisoners. In today’s Research News article “Yoga in Correctional Settings: A Randomized Controlled Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650609/ ), Kerekes and colleagues recruited male and female prisoners in Sweden and randomly assigned them to either 10-weeks of yoga practice or a wait-list control. Yoga training occurred for 90 minutes once a week for 10 weeks. Control participants were encouraged to engage in another physical activity for 90 minutes once a week. At the end of the 10 weeks, the control participants practiced yoga for ten weeks. The prisoners were measured before and after training for perceived stress, prison aggression, positive and negative emotions, sleep quality, and psychiatric symptoms. They were also asked to perform a continuous performance task that measures attention, impulsivity, and vigilance.

 

They found that the group that practiced yoga had less perceived stress, better sleep quality, an increased psychological and emotional well-being, less aggressive, antisocial, and self-harm behaviors. Compared to the control group, the yoga group showed increased positive emotions, impulse control and attention, and decreased negative affect. Importantly, there was a significant decrease in anti-social behaviors of the prisoners practicing yoga.

 

Yoga practice was associated with significant improvements in the prisoners’ mental health and well-being. This is not surprising as yoga practice has been repeatedly shown to provide similar benefits to other, non-prisoner, participants. But the impact of these benefits are heightened in the high-stress prison environment. The results suggest that yoga practice not only makes prison life more tolerable and constructive, but also decreases the types of behaviors, anti-social behaviors, that resulted in their incarcerations in the first place. So, yoga practice while in prison may help to prepare the prisoners for successfully reengaging in life after prison and reduce recidivism.

 

So, improve improve prisoner well-being and rehabilitation with yoga.

 

“These boys came from neglectful and abusive backgrounds, most of them [were] on medication, a real mess. That was where I got it. I realized that working with their bodies was so much more effective than just working cognitively. I started to see yoga as complementary therapy. For healing to take place, the body has to be involved. The counselors were saying, “Wow, the boys are feeling more self-confidence and self-esteem after having done yoga for two or three months.” They were actually seeing changes in them.” – James Fox

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kerekes, N., Fielding, C., & Apelqvist, S. (2017). Yoga in Correctional Settings: A Randomized Controlled Study. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 8, 204. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00204

 

Abstract

Background

The effect of yoga in the reduction of depressive symptoms, anxiety, stress, anger as well as in the increased ability of behavioral control has been shown. These effects of yoga are highly relevant for prison inmates who often have poor mental health and low impulse control. While it has been shown that yoga and meditation can be effective in improving subjective well-being, mental health, and executive functioning within prison populations, only a limited number of studies have proved this, using randomized controlled settings.

Methods

A total of 152 participants from nine Swedish correctional facilities were randomly assigned to a 10-week yoga group (one class a week; N = 77) or a control group (N = 75). Before and after the intervention period, participants answered questionnaires measuring stress, aggression, affective states, sleep quality, and psychological well-being and completed a computerized test measuring attention and impulsivity.

Results

After the intervention period, significant improvements were found on 13 of the 16 variables within the yoga group (e.g., less perceived stress, better sleep quality, an increased psychological and emotional well-being, less aggressive, and antisocial behavior) and on two within the control group. Compared to the control group, yoga class participants reported significantly improved emotional well-being and less antisocial behavior after 10 weeks of yoga. They also showed improved performance on the computerized test that measures attention and impulse control.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that the yoga practiced in Swedish correctional facilities has positive effects on inmates’ well-being and on considerable risk factors associated with recidivism, such as impulsivity and antisocial behavior. Accordingly, the results show that yoga practice can play an important part in the rehabilitation of prison inmates.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650609/

Reduce Drug Addiction and Prison Recidivism with Mindfulness

Reduce Drug Addiction and Prison Recidivism with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being in prison presents tremendous obstacles to cultivating a peaceful mind, the environment is conducive to negativity and can result in further harm. On every level, the basic antidote to inner and outer obstacles is mindfulness practice.” – Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche,

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Many are serving time for drug related offenses. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Prison provides a great deal of time for reflection and self-exploration. This provides an opportunity for growth and development. Contemplative practices are well suited to this environment. Meditation teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, meditation has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In addition, mindfulness can help to treat drug addictions that often underlie incarceration and promote recidivism after release. There are a number of programs that are successful at stopping the drug abuse, including the classic 12-step program emblematic of Narcotics Anonymous. Unfortunately, the majority of drug and/or alcohol abusers relapse and return to substance abuse. Hence, it is important to find an effective method to not only produce abstinence but also prevent relapses. Mindfulness training has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for reducing addiction relapse. So, mindfulness training can be helpful in preventing recidivism.

 

In today’s Research News article “Prison Meditation Movements and Mass Incarceration.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4633398/, Lyons and Cantrell review the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness trainings on reducing drug addiction and prisoner recidivism. They report that the research supports the effectiveness of mindfulness in combating drug addiction and its effects may last longer than other forms of addiction therapy even in prison populations. Importantly, improvements have been shown to be maintained after release from prison. Additionally, meditation programs in prison have been shown to produce significant reductions in prisoner hostility and increases in self-esteem and mood.

 

Hence, meditation training can be effective in the treatment of addictions and the psychological issues of prisoners and can have effects that continue post-release. Lyons and Cantrell postulate that the presence of a meditation group (Sangha) in prison creates a social context that is very important for success. They also suggest that linking the prisoners to meditation groups outside of prison can be helpful in maintaining benefits after release. They also suggest that focusing on experiences in meditation and empowering prisoners to lead their own groups may be help to potentiate effectiveness. So, meditation training in prison appears to be a promising practice to assist prisoners in coping with addiction and improving their psychological state while in prison and continuing after release. This is likely to help prisoners adjust to the outside world and reduce the likelihood that they will be arrested again and returned to prison.

 

So, reduce drug addiction and prison recidivism with mindfulness.

 

How do we bring sanity into one of the most hostile environments of our society ­- our prisons? . . . Mindfulness creates mental discipline and stability. This provides the inmates with the tools they need to cultivate a sense of ease, decency and compassion. Isn’t that the point of rehabilitation?” – Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lyons, T., & Cantrell, W. D. (2016). Prison Meditation Movements and Mass Incarceration. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 60(12), 1363–1375. http://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X15583807

 

Abstract

By some estimates more than half of inmates held in jails and prisons in the United States have a substance use disorder. Treatments involving the teaching of meditation and other contemplative practices have been developed for a variety of physical and mental disorders including drug and alcohol addiction. At the same time, an expanding volunteer movement across the country has been bringing meditation and yoga into jails and prisons. This review first examines the experimental research on one such approach – mindfulness meditation as a treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, as well as the research on mindfulness in incarcerated settings. We argue that in order to make a substantial impact on recidivism, such programs must mirror volunteer programs which emphasize interdependency and non-duality between the “helper” and the “helped,” and the building of meditation communities both inside and outside of prison.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4633398/

Improve Prisoner Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Prisoner Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Through meditation, prisoners come to recognize their conditioning as their own and take responsibility for it, and ultimately step outside of it so their thoughts and actions can come from a space of freedom. For some it’s like a light bulb going off, for others it takes time. But they all get it eventually. You see, most of them have been in and out of jail many times. They know through personal experience that just because the jail door opens, it doesn’t mean their life is going to change. They understand that this issue of real freedom is not about being locked up or not.” – Fleet Maull

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

About half of the prison population have diagnosed mental health problems, most of which are untreated. Hence, there is a need for therapeutic programs to treat these problems in prisoners. Contemplative practices are well suited to this environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Outcomes of Psychological Therapies for Prisoners With Mental Health Problems: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5518650/, Yoon and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of various therapies for the treatment of mental health problems in prisoners. They included randomized controlled trials that employed a variety of different therapies, including “Cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, Mindfulness-based Therapy, and other group treatments such as Music Therapy and Art Therapy,” but excluded trials which solely used drug treatments. The trials examined depressed mood, anxiety, trauma symptoms, overall psychopathology, somatization, and hostility/anger.

 

They found 37 published reports of randomized controlled trials. These trials reported positive improvements in the prisoners’ mental health with moderate effect sizes. These included improvements in depression anxiety, trauma symptoms, overall psychopathology, and hostility/anger. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-based Therapies were the most effective therapies. It did not matter if they were administered in a group or individual format. Unfortunately, the small number of studies, 6, that reported 3 and 6-month follow up data reported that the effects did not last and were no longer significant at follow-up.

 

These are important findings that clearly support the application of cognitive and mindfulness-based therapies for the treatment of prisoner mental health problems. The lack of lasting effectiveness, though, is a problem. This may suggest that the practices learned in the treatments are not continued after the formal sessions end. There is clearly a need for more study and experimentation to develop more long-lasting protocols. Regardless, mindfulness training would appear to be a potentially safe and effective treatment for the mental health problems of prisoners. It has to be kept in mind that mindfulness training not only helps the prisoners while incarcerated, it also helps after release, and this reduces recidivism. This by itself means that mindfulness treatments are not only a humane use of prison resources, but are also cost-effective.

 

So, improve prisoner mental health with mindfulness.

 

“The data demonstrate a stark change in the prisoners themselves and their interactions with others. Before the training most prisoners felt hopeless. They engaged in aggressive behaviour and exhibited a strong sense of “us” versus “them”. Following the training, prisoners reported that they could lead their lives more mindfully, had found fresh purpose and that their lives now had meaning – even for those who expected to spend the rest of their days behind bars.” – Inmaculada Adarves-Yorno

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Yoon, I. A., Slade, K., & Fazel, S. (2017). Outcomes of Psychological Therapies for Prisoners With Mental Health Problems: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(8), 783–802. http://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000214

 

Abstract

Objective: Prisoners worldwide have substantial mental health needs, but the efficacy of psychological therapy in prisons is unknown. We aimed to systematically review psychological therapies with mental health outcomes in prisoners and qualitatively summarize difficulties in conducting randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Method: We systematically identified RCTs of psychological therapies with mental health outcomes in prisoners (37 studies). Effect sizes were calculated and meta-analyzed. Eligible studies were assessed for quality. Subgroup and metaregression analyses were conducted to examine sources of between-study heterogeneity. Thematic analysis reviewed difficulties in conducting prison RCTs. Results:In 37 identified studies, psychological therapies showed a medium effect size (0.50, 95% CI [0.34, 0.66]) with high levels of heterogeneity with the most evidence for CBT and mindfulness-based trials. Studies that used no treatment (0.77, 95% CI [0.50, 1.03]) or waitlist controls (0.71, 95% CI [0.43, 1.00]) had larger effect sizes than those that had treatment-as-usual or other psychological therapies as controls (0.21, 95% CI [0.01, 0.41]). Effects were not sustained on follow-up at 3 and 6 months. No differences were found between group and individual therapy, or different treatment types. The use of a fidelity measure was associated with lower effect sizes. Qualitative analysis identified difficulties with follow-up and institutional constraints on scheduling and implementation of trials. Conclusions: CBT and mindfulness-based therapies are modestly effective in prisoners for depression and anxiety outcomes. In prisons with existing psychological therapies, more evidence is required before additional therapies can be recommended.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5518650/