Thursday, September 19, 2013

Douglas College Therapeutic Recreation students to help with mental health study

                  Colleen Reid, Douglas faculty
A Douglas College research project focused on therapeutic recreation programs for people with mental illnesses will allow students to gain practical experience.

Colleen Reid, a therapeutic recreation instructor, is working on the two-year project with the Open Door Group, a Vancouver non-profit which provides services for people with mental-health issues. The goals of the project are to identify how people with mental-health challenges experience community inclusion, health and wellbeing and then to develop indicators to evaluate the success of therapeutic recreation programs.

As part of the project, Open Door Group clients will use cameras to document their daily living experiences. They will then be interviewed about what the images mean to them. Students in Douglas College’s Bachelor in Therapeutic Recreation degree program will help the clients with the photography, in addition to other research duties.

Reid, project co-lead, said the experience will help students solidify their research skills and more.

“It’s about opening up their views and perspectives around mental illness and having them work directly with clients,” she says. “We think that’s a really important skill for them, to be ready to work with this group in the future, potentially. A lot of people graduating from Therapeutic Recreation do work in mental health.”

Reid has received a $135,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation, a charitable funding organization, to support the project.

"There is increasing pressure on community-based services to measure the effectiveness of their programs. Unfortunately, there is also a lack of good outcome indicators," she says. "What we hope to do is to develop indicators that better reflect the experiences of clients."