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MSU study looks for more cost effective way to treat depression among prison inmates

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Michigan State University researchers say they've found a cost-effective way to help prison inmates with depression.

Roughly a quarter of prison inmates released each year suffer from depression.  Often, the problem pre-dates their incarceration.

Inmates often go without adequate treatment while in prison. Many re-enter society with worse mental health problems than before they entered prison.

Jennifer Johnson is a professor of public health in MSU’s College of Human Medicine.

She led a team of master’s level health therapists and bachelor’s level re-entry counselors who worked with 181 prison inmates dealing with depressive symptoms, hopelessness and PTSD.  Researchers used interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) to treat inmates battling major depressive disorder (MDD). 

Johnson says the treatment should help inmates when they leave prison behind.

“I think anytime you treat a mental health problem you’re setting the person up to be successful.  No matter what they're doing” says Johnson. “If you have an effective treatment for major depressive disorder, you’re likely to build skills that can help you in the future if you become depressed again.”

The study appears in the journal Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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