Future-proofing: Exploring the value of a therapeutic recreation positive psychology intervention for supporting youth experiencing mental health challenges
Cripps, Lauren C.
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In Canada, suicide remains the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 15 to 24, exceeded only by unintentional injuries (accidents). In 2012, suicide accounted for 15% of deaths among youth aged 10-14 years, 29% among youth aged 15-19 years and 23% among young adults aged 20-24 (Statistics Canada, 2017). Recovery supports the development of a meaningful life (as described by the individual) that includes enhanced traits and practices that are specifically intended to maintain one’s level of satisfaction in everyday life, while supporting the management of recurring symptoms and/or changes in current life circumstances (Andresen, Oades, & Caputi, 2011; Kleiber, Hutchinson, & Williams, 2002; McCormick & Iwasaki, 2008; McCormick & Iwasaki, 2008; McCormick, 1999). This recovery-oriented project was a qualitative, interpretative phenomenological study guided by the evidenced-informed process as a framework for program design, implementation and evaluation. This project sought to critically explore mental health as it pertains to adolescents through the design, implementation and evaluation of a therapeutic recreation intervention designed for youth living in a residential treatment setting. This project provides evidence that the BYBS-Y program has the potential to support change with the participants. This project also demonstrates new learning and is an illustration of the potential connection between a strengths perspective and supporting essential tasks assigned to development and recovery. By implementing a three-phase process this research shows the value of feedback from both practitioners and clients, affirming that our greatest insights are always gained from those with lived experience. Finally, this project provides evidence for the contribution of TR services in the recovery process, suggesting that by focusing on the development of skills and capacities that are likely to generate emotion, highlight strengths, support choice and create opportunities for positive social connections, it is likely that youth can increase the resiliency necessary to buffer the effects of chronic symptoms and in turn begin to envision (and obtain) a life that includes, but is not defined by illness.