Guest Blog from ACL’s RRTC on Community Living and Participation for People with Serious Mental Illness

By Kyra H. Baker: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) programs, funded by ACL’s National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, conduct advanced research and training to improve health, employment, and community living outcomes for people with disabilities. RRTCs also serve as a network of information hubs to connect researchers, service providers and people with disabilities to the rehabilitation research. As the RRTC on community living and participation for people with serious mental illness, the Collaborative for Community Inclusion at Temple University focuses on research and knowledge-development activities that lead to interventions to help people with serious mental health conditions participate fully and meaningfully in their communities.

For example, the RRTC is studying the effectiveness of a promising peer support intervention that uses photovoice to promote campus engagement by college students with serious mental health conditions. Photovoice is a process in which participants capture their experiences and observations in photographs and discuss them with other participants. Created in 1992 as a tool for social change, photovoice has been shown to have an empowering effect on participants and has been adapted for a wide variety of interventions and research projects.

In the RRTC study, which began in 2018 and has recruited half of their study sample, college students with serious mental health conditions take photos over six weeks each fall and spring semester. The pictures represent their current or desired engagement on campus, barriers to engagement, and things that facilitate engagement. Students share their photos, along with a caption, for discussion on a private social media page. This online community allows students to connect with and support each other day to day throughout the semester. Three “meetups” each semester, facilitated by an interventionist with a background in recreational therapy, offer the students opportunities to connect in-person or virtually.

In this guest post for Mental Health Awareness Month, Kyra H. Baker, Research and Intervention Coordinator for the RRTC, shares more about the project.

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