Intensive prison programme generates positive outcomes – which last

Beyond Recovery is committed to providing the most effective service we can and all our work is rigorously evaluated to help us continuously improve it. We have commissioned a series of independent evaluations of our work at an English prison (HMP Onley) to see whether it succeeded in improving the mental health and behaviour of the prisoners participating in the programme. The results have been impressive and are published in international academic journals. We have recently received the evaluation of our intensive programme which has revealed very positive outcomes.

The programme

The programme comprised 5 x 3 hour sessions over a three-day period and Beyond Recovery ran 31 of these programmes between June 2015 and July 2017. 338 prisoners enrolled and 175 completed the full course – the others failed to start the course, dropped out, broke prison rules or had a problem with another prisoner on their programme.

The research

The independent research set out to test whether the programme had positive impact on six factors. The first of these relate to the Three Principles model − whether particpants showed a significant increase in their understanding of the Three Principles. The other five measured the impact of this understanding of the Three Principles on:

  1. Mental well-being;
  2. Any increase in a sense of purpose in life;
  3. Depression;
  4. Anxiety; and
  5. Anger

The results

The prisoners who participated in the programme were found to have improved in all six of these key factors:

  1. They showed a significant increase in their understanding of the Three Principles;
  2. They showed a significant increase in mental well-being;
  3. They showed a significant increase in purpose in life;
  4. They showed significant decrease in depression;
  5. They showed significant decrease in anxiety; and
  6. They also showed significant decrease in anger.

When the same psychological tests were applied to members of the control group, there was no significant change on any of these factors.

At the 5-month follow up, participants were found to have maintained their progress in four of these areas and to have increased it in the other two (levels of both depression and anger were further decreased).


This research found there is a relationship between understanding the three principles and improved mental health for prisoners. On average, participants on the Beyond Recovery programme grasped new insights regarding the three principles, thought recognition, and innate health via a clear mind. Critically, this understanding appeared to result in these participants showing a significant increase in mental well-being and purpose in life and a significant decrease in depression, anxiety and anger. Furthermore, at 5-month follow-up, these positive effects were either maintained or significantly improved.

You can follow the findings of all our research on our Impact Page.