Mental Health Treatment in United States Prison Systems: The Influence of Varying Treatment Methods on Inmates with Schizophrenia

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2019-05-08
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Schizophrenia is a psychological disorder that produces symptoms commonly of hallucinations, delusions, movement disorders, and confused thought or speech. Americans diagnosed with schizophrenia are three times more likely to be imprisoned than hospitalized for their symptom expression, thus necessitating prison reform to treat individuals and reduce repeat offenses. The influence of mental health treatments on inmates with schizophrenia (IWS) in the United States will be analyzed. In order to conduct the research, surveys will be distributed to IWS in 100 prisons across the United States. Five caregivers and 45 IWS within each prison will fill out six surveys over a six month period with questions that measure changes in levels of delusions, hallucinations, interpersonal distress, and disorganized thought that IWS express while incarcerated. Changes in symptoms will be analyzed over the six month period to observe how medications and other forms of treatment affect symptoms of IWS. Federal prisons fail to classify serious mental illnesses in prisoners and only require treatment in 3% of inmates. In comparison, California prisons classified over 30% of inmates in need of regular treatment for serious mental illness. Lack of treatment causes many IWS to experience heightened negative symptoms which, without treatment, drove some inmates to attempt suicide. Administering antipsychotic drugs, providing counseling, and offering emotional therapy to people with schizophrenia reduces their negative symptoms, which would help current inmates, and keep non-incarcerated people with schizophrenia out of prison.

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