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Mindfulness in mental health and prison settings
Mindfulness in mental health and prison settings

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3 Mindfulness in prisons

Described image
Figure 3 Prisoners meditating

In ‘Mindfulness’, from Mad or Bad: A Critical Approach to Counselling and Forensic Psychology, you learned that mindfulness could be useful in prisons for a number of reasons:

  • levels of mental health difficulties – including depression, anxiety and suicide – are higher in prisons than in the general population. Mindfulness – particularly in group formats – is a useful, and cost-effective, way of tackling such mental health difficulties (Shonin et al., 2015)
  • prisoners tend to have higher levels of difficult emotions, such as anger, and more trouble regulating such feelings. Mindfulness can be particularly helpful with emotional regulation (Chambers et al., 2009)
  • prisoners also tend to have higher levels of substance abuse, which mindfulness can help to treat (Bowen et al., 2010)
  • linked to the above, there is evidence that prisoners who have taken part in sustained mindfulness programmes have significantly lower rates of re-offending (Auty et al., 2015).