Connectivity, Prison Environment and Mental Illness among First-time Male Inmates in Mexico City, Mexico Open Access

Albertie, Ariel Laurin (2013)

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Research suggests that prison populations are disproportionately affected by mental illness compared to the general population. However, little research has examined how contextual factors surrounding the prison experience are associated with depression and/or substance use among first-time inmates. Even fewer studies have explored these contextual factors, particularly connectivity and the prison environment, in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) prison settings. The current study examines associations between connectivity, the prison environment, and mental illness, specifically major depression, alcohol use and drug use among first-time male inmates (n=593) in three Mexico City, Mexico prisons. Severe depression (46.2%) and drug use (53.8%) was reported by approximately half of respondents, while alcohol use (7.9%) was less prevalent. Conjugal visits, visitations, prison employment, physical attacks, cellmates and sentence time served were all found to be significantly associated with severe depression or substance use, suggesting that mental illness among inmates is influenced by differential exposures in prison rather than confinement alone. These findings can inform mental health policy regarding adjustment to prison as well as prevention and treatment strategies in prison settings.

Table of Contents

Chapter I: Introduction...1 Objectives & Aims...2 Mental Health in Prison Settings...2 First-time Inmates....5 Prisons in Mexico...5 Chapter II: Literature Review...10 Psychological Effects of Imprisonment...10 Depression...18 Substance Use...22 Connectivity and Deprivation...25 Prison Environment...28 Gaps in the Literature...30 Chapter III: Manuscript...32 Background...36 Study Design & Methods...39 Measurements & Analysis...40 Results...43 Discussion...46 References...52 Appendix: Tables...56 Chapter IV: Recommendations...60 Public Health Implications...60 References...70

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