243077 Are Mindfulness based Interventions appropriate and effective in treating Severe Mental Illness

Monday, October 31, 2011

Seth Kurzban, MSW, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Lisa Davis, LCSW, Doctoral candidate , Social Work, University of Southern California, Santa Monica, CA
Introduction: Mindfulness based treatments have proven to enhance coping and reduce stress, largely through the development of non-judgmental awareness of self, others, and the surrounding environment (1,2). These processes are highly relevant to individuals dealing with severe mental illness (SMI) and living in the community where it has been historically challenging to establish healthy coping patterns in order to respond appropriately to stressors in the social environment (3). Mindfulness based practices (i.e. DBT, ACT) have been developed for treating poor mental health but have yet to be adapted and tested for effectiveness in helping individuals dealing with SMI.

Methods: We designed and tested a 12 week mindfulness based group therapy to help individuals with SMI being treated at community MH centers. Using a quasi experimental design 16 participants were recruited directly into treatment and compared with 14 individuals on a treatment waitlist. A range of clinical measurements were administered at pre and post intervention and analyzed for within and between group differences.

Results: The mindfulness based groups were effective as we found significant improvement across many variables including improved treatment engagement, reduction in social isolation and withdrawal, and improvement in self care. We also found clinical improvement in levels of hope, community integration, and dealing with stressful psychoses.

Conclusions: Mindfulness based treatments are appropriate and effective for treating individuals with SMI and should be further explored as a treatment approach in helping individuals with SMI to improve their coping skills and reduce their stress.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1) To describe the evidence for mindfulness in reducing anxiety and improving depression in non-severely mentally ill. 2) To demonstrate and assess the effectiveness of a pilot study that used mindfulness practice in a SMI population that is chronically homeless. 3) To evaluate the use of future mindfulness practice with an SMI population

Keywords: Mental Illness, Practice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed, tested , and evaluated this intervention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.