The Impact of a Mindfulness Based Program on Perceived Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Sleep of Incarcerated Women

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Sep 16;12(9):11594-607. doi: 10.3390/ijerph120911594.


Incarcerated women enter the prison setting with remarkable histories of trauma, mental health and substance abuse issues. Given the stress of incarceration and separation from their children, families, and significant others, it is not surprising that many women experience increased anxiety, depression, and problems with sleep. Due to these negative outcomes, it is imperative to find efficient non-pharmacological interventions. This pilot study examined the impact of a 12-week mindfulness based program on the stress, anxiety, depression and sleep of women with a total of 33 completing the study. In one group, women's perceived stress, anxiety and depression were all significantly lower following the intervention compared to prior to the intervention. Challenges with implementing the pilot study are addressed. Despite challenges and limitations, the low-cost non-pharmacological intervention has potential for a reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Keywords: anxiety; depression; incarcerated women; mindfulness; perceived stress; sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Perception / physiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Prisons
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Young Adult