Therapeutic Recreation

Mental health is a growing area of concern and has been a national government health priority area since 1996. It has local, national and global impacts. Therapeutic recreation (TR) is an intervention designed to restore, remediate and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life activities.

Therapeutic Recreation (TR), as a means of enhancing the lives of people living with mental illness, has been embraced in the USA. However, within Australia, the concept has yet to be fully accepted. This project will further research of TR by studying the effect of a TR intervention on people’s engagement with mental health services.

TR is an educationally grounded approach that engages participants in activities designed to restore, remediate and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life. There is a growing body of research illustrating the benefits of engagement in TR experiences across a range of participant populations, including people with physical and mental illness.

The aim of the project is to examine the possible effect a TR intervention may have on people’s engagement with local mental health services. 

Mental health services data will be accessed through the Australia Health Services Research Institute, Centre for Health Research Illawarra Shoalhaven Populations (CHRISP). This data will be used to provide insight into the level and type of engagement people with a lived experience have with mental health services. This data will be used to examine the type of, how often, and length of stay with mental health services. Access to the CHRISP data will also allow for an understanding of potential mediators and moderators of mental health services, such as time, gender and diagnosis.

Data from this project may shed light into ways that may enhance the length and quality of life for those living with mental illness. In addition, results of the project may provide insight into the economic value a TR experience may have for those on a personal recovery journey.


The Team

Christopher Patterson is an Associate Professor within the UOW, School of Nursing, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health

Dr Dana Perlman is a senior lecturer within the UOW, School of Education, Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

Prof Marjorie Baldwin is from the Department of Economics at Arizona State University

Kelly Remella is from the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizone State Univeristy.

Brendan McAlister is the Integration Development Coordinator within the UOW Sydney Business School and AHSRI, Centre for Health Research Illawarra



This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing .  Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals