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Serious About Schizophrenia - Treatment is More Than Medication

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The primary goal of a Recreation Therapist working with a patient living with schizophrenia is to improve their quality of life by providing opportunities for meaningful engagement and activities. Meaningful leisure activities produce positive emotions, such as joy, contentment and interest, which have a direct relation to wellbeing.

Circumstances of hospitalization and the symptomology of schizophrenia often make it difficult to experience positive emotions or engage in meaningful activities. For example, the negative symptoms can cause individuals to seclude themselves or become isolated and they may require significant behavioural activation or motivational encouragement to perform daily tasks.

Recreation therapists support individuals in developing a positive sense of identity, which can be extremely difficult for some especially when society often places negative stigmatizations on mental illness. Through assessment, education and participation in meaningful activities, they support individuals in identifying their strengths and values. Engagement in these activities can help individuals adapt a strengths-based mindset and enhance the strengths they already possess.

Leisure is a tool used to instill hope, empower individuals and build social connections as a means to live well with mental illness. The recreation therapist will work with individuals and the interprofessional team to develop strengths-based goals for their personal and clinical recovery.

Ontario Shores follows a general philosophy of recovery, but the role of a recreation therapist is to support these individuals with a sense of hope to provide opportunities that will ultimately re-establish a sense of identity and connection through recreation and engagement.

“Working with individuals living with schizophrenia is a challenging, but very rewarding experience. They are among the most resilient people, often having experienced significant trauma, challenging life circumstances and a devastating illness which carries with it a heavy stigma. The patients I work with are people. They are unique individuals with strengths, values and interests who are trying to live their best life with this diagnosis. In my role as a recreation therapist I get to support these individuals in their recovery by providing opportunities to experience positive emotions and meaningful engagement. This can be challenging at times, due to the symptomatology of schizophrenia, but there is nothing more rewarding than being able to provide a little bit of joy to someone’s life.” - Grace Williamson, Recreational Therapist.

SERIOUS ABOUT SCHIZOPHRENIA - Ontario Shores worked with Ipsos Marketing to gauge society’s views on schizophrenia in honour of the specialty mental health hospital’s upcoming 100th anniversary. Click here to learn more about the study which inspired this #MindVine series, which looks at the chronic brain disease from multiple angles.

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