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Mental health and wellbeing benefits from a prisons horticultural programme

Alan Farrier (Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)
Michelle Baybutt (Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)
Mark Dooris (Healthy and Sustainable Settings Unit, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Article publication date: 4 March 2019

Issue publication date: 4 March 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

In the context of current prison safety and reform, the purpose of this paper is to discuss findings of an impact evaluation of a horticultural programme delivered in 12 prisons in North West England.

Design/methodology/approach

The programme was evaluated using quantitative and qualitative methods, including Green Gym© questionnaires, the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) and Biographic-Narrative Interpretive Method interviews.

Findings

Against a backdrop of high rates of suicide, self-harm and poor mental health, the horticultural programme studied proved beneficial to prisoner participants, the most marked effect was on mental health and wellbeing. In addition to data related to the original mental health outcome indicators, the study revealed multiple layers of “added value” related to mental health arising from horticultural work in a prison setting.

Research limitations/implications

The main research limitations were the limited completion of follow-on questionnaires due to prisoners being released and the inability to conduct longitudinal data collection post-release. There was also concern about response bias and lack of resource to compare with the experience of prisoners not participating in the programme.

Social implications

Positive impacts on prisoners’ mental health and wellbeing included increased confidence, social interactions with staff and other prisoners and gaining skills and qualifications and work experience, increasing potential for post-release employment.

Originality/value

Benefits of horticulture work on health are well established. However, to date, there is little research concerning the effects this work may have on mental wellbeing of prisoners both within prisons and more so upon their release back into the community.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by Big Lottery Fund. The funding body specified that data should be gathered on specific outcome indicators, but also allowed the research team to search for additional outcomes from the programme.

Citation

Farrier, A., Baybutt, M. and Dooris, M. (2019), "Mental health and wellbeing benefits from a prisons horticultural programme", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 91-104. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPH-11-2017-0055

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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