Answered Questions for August 2022: Information on Recreation, Music, Art, and Related Therapies and Mental Health

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is I have a mental health condition and my psychotherapist has advised me that recreational therapy, art therapy, or music therapy, among other therapies, may help me reach my treatment goals. Where may I find more information about these therapies and mental health conditions? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that discusses a NIDILRR-funded project that looks at the community living, participation, and recreation of people with serious mental illnesses; how music and art therapies may help people with brain disorders; a tool that helps professionals support people with mental health conditions explore park-related interests to improve their health; leisure and physical activity interventions to promote health and recovery; serious games, gamification, and mental illness; and more. More about Answered Questions.

NIDILRR-Funded Projects:

The NIDILRR-funded Temple University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Community Living and Participation of People with Serious Mental Illness (TU Collaborative) (in English) seeks to target obstacles that prevent people with psychiatric disabilities from fully participating in their communities; develop the services and supports that consumers and communities need to promote full integration into all aspects of community life, including recreational activities; and expand the range of opportunities for people with psychiatric disabilities to participate in their communities as active and equal members. The TU Collaborative creates evidence-based resources (in English) for people with psychiatric disabilities, their families, and peer providers (in English) to help them participate in their communities, including evidence-based resources related to recreation and leisure activities (in English). The Center also creates resources for communities, service providers, and others in creating welcoming communities for people with psychiatric disabilities (in English).

From the NARIC Collection:

Photography may offer therapeutic benefits for people with mental health conditions. The article Recovery narrative photovoice: Feasibility of a writing and photography intervention for serious mental illness (in English), discusses a study that examined the feasibility of the Recovery Narrative Photovoice (RNP) intervention among people with serious mental illnesses (SMI). Photovoice is a community-based participatory action research approach where participants take photographs and write accompanying narratives or are interviewed about the content in the images. RNP, developed as a 10-week intervention designed to facilitate recovery, empowerment, community integration, and positive identity among individuals with SMI, integrates Photovoice methodology with psychoeducational components, informed by principles of the recovery movement and narrative therapy. Sixteen participants with SMI from a psychosocial rehabilitation and education center in the Northeast participated in a pilot study evaluating this new 10-week intervention. Findings support the feasibility and acceptability of the RNP for individuals with SMI. These results reflect the potential for using this intervention in psychiatric rehabilitation settings to facilitate recovery-related outcomes, including empowerment, positive identity, and community integration.

Serious games and the use of gamification have the potential to engage people with serious mental illness in game content and to promote their treatment outcomes. The article, Serious games, gamification, and serious mental illness: A scoping review (in English), discusses a study that examined the current state of knowledge about how games and gamification are used to promote the treatment of serious mental illness. Researchers found that the games reviewed in the study offered the opportunity for problem solving, collaboration, and goal-oriented activity that supported the delivery of therapeutic outcomes. They also found that the use of serious games and gamification to promote treatment had high feasibility and acceptability levels among users with mental illness and providers.

The article, Physical activity, leisure, and health for persons with mental illness (in English) focuses on the use of leisure and physical activity interventions to promote health and recovery in people with mental illnesses. The article discusses mental illness and leisure involvement in physical activities; changes to mental illness and the benefits of leisure services; and the implications of leisure on physical activity interventions and support of a person’s autonomy.

Research In Focus:

Neurocognition involves information processing, ability to focus, accessing/using memory, and learning, and it plays an integral role in the health and well-being of people with serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or mood disorders. The article, For People with Serious Mental Illness, Getting Out and About May be Good for the Brain, discusses a study by researchers from the completed NIDILRR-funded project on Identifying Enabling Environments Affecting Adults with Psychiatric Disabilities (in English) looked at how environmental novelty might be related to neurocognition in adults with serious mental illness. The researchers found that the participants who spent most of the time at home had lower neurocognition scores in comparison to those that engaged more frequently in community activities outside of the home. The authors suggest that future research with larger groups of participants or over a longer period may help determine how participation outside of the home impacts cognitive function for people with serious mental illness. This article is also available in English.


The article, Art and music therapy seem to help with brain disorders. Scientists want to know why (in English) from National Public Radio (NPR) (in English), discusses the story of Michael Schneider, a Veteran with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to two service-related brain injuries, and how he has benefitted from music and art therapies. Personal experiences, like Mr. Schneider’s, are beginning to get some scientific confirmation. The article discusses studies that suggest that music strengthens brain circuits that help repair damage and hints that the brain changes in response to other art therapies, such as dance, poetry, painting, sculpture, and even leatherwork. Finally, the article discusses where the research is heading, including the work that singer Renee Fleming is doing with researchers to promote more research and the creation of a new field of research and expertise: neuroarts.

Music Therapy:

The article from Conferedarción Salud Mental in Spain, Music therapy in mental health: Recovery in a space of freedom, empathy, and without roles, discusses the usefulness and benefits of music therapy for people with psychiatric disabilities. According to Ernest Martínez Massanet, a music educator and therapist who works with people with mental illness, activities such as music, games, free movement, voice, rhythmic improvisation, and song are just some of the tools and activities linked to music therapy and the different areas on which it acts: the affective, social, spiritual, emotional, cognitive, and physical sides of a person with or without disabilities. His study on implementing a music therapy program for people with mental illness in Spain found that music therapy sessions generate positive changes in the state of mind of people with mental illness.

Art Therapy:

Art therapy is used by art therapists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals to improve cognitive and sensorimotor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, and reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, among others. The article, New teaching method: Art and disability (abstract is in English), discusses a study that looked at the possible relationship between the level of self-esteem of people with mental illness and their artistic ability. The results of this study show how art therapy increases the global self-esteem level of people with mental illness in comparison to other traditional methods.



  • Park prescription programs, or ParkRx, are opportunities for health professionals to connect people with disabilities, including those with mental health conditions, to local parks with the intention of improving health. ParkRX: Connecting health goals to park participation (in English), from the NIDILRR-funded TU Collaborative (in English), is a ParkRx tool that can be used by park professionals or mental health professionals to support people with mental health conditions to identify health goals, explore park interests, and connect them to community opportunities.

Further Research:




About Answered Questions

Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned above is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDILRR Projects, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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