Challenges to experience leisure enjoyment among individuals with serious mental illnesses




leisure activities, pleasure, mental disorders, Flow theory


This study aimed to explore common challenges to experiencing enjoyment during leisure activities among people with serious mental illnesses (SMI). Nineteen individuals receiving services at a community-based behavioral health service provider were interviewed. The analysis found three major challenges: (a) mismatch between activity difficulty and one’s skill/ability, (b) nonoptimal emotional states, and (c) distractions. The identified themes were aligned with the factors for optimal experience in the theory of Flow, which suggests that people with SMI face considerable challenges experiencing Flow. Recreational therapists should consider these potential relationships and plan programs that can bolster client potential for successful engagement in and enjoyment from leisure activities.

Author Biographies

Shinichi Nagata, PhD, CTRS

Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan

Terry Long, PhD

School of Health Science and Wellness, Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, Missouri

Takahiro Sato, PhD

Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan

Ron Tankel, BS, CTRS

Independent Researcher, Kansas City, Missouri

Yu Furuta, MS

Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan

Takafumi Tomura, MS

Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan


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How to Cite

Nagata, PhD, CTRS, S., Long, PhD, T., Sato, PhD, T., Tankel, BS, CTRS, R., Furuta, MS, Y., & Tomura, MS, T. (2022). Challenges to experience leisure enjoyment among individuals with serious mental illnesses. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 21(3), 41–48.




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