Lauren Torok believes in the power of leisure in the treatment of mental illness.
Torok is a master’s student in Applied Health Sciences who is studying how recreation and leisure pursuits help people with mental illness live full and engaged lives. She hopes her research will inspire change in mental health support services and lead to the development of a new therapeutic recreation treatment program for people with mental illness.
Torok’s research is driven by her experience living with major depressive disorder.
“My own experiences with mental health and my subsequent journey of creating a life of meaning provide a context for my interest in positive psychology and the role of leisure in physical and psychological well-being,” she says.
“There is no cure for mental illness but recovery is possible. Leisure may be the only facet of life through which individuals with mental illness gain a perceived sense of freedom and give meaning or purpose to their life.”
Torok recently talked about her research for an article posted by the Evidence Exchange Network (EENet), affiliated with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The network is providing an infrastructure to link research and researchers with mental health and addiction stakeholders across Ontario.
Torok plans to take the results of her master’s thesis and develop a treatment program to support recovery-oriented therapeutic recreation practice. She says the project “has the potential to enhance therapeutic recreation and mental health services, promote well-being for individuals with mental illness and reduce rates of re-hospitalization regionally, provincially and nationally.”
Torok was awarded a 2013-14 Ontario Graduate Scholarship to support her research.
She is in the final stages of completing her master’s degree and plans to remain at Brock to pursue doctoral studies. Torok also holds an honours bachelor degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from Brock.