Leisure and Recreation and Its Impact on Mental Health

Have Leisure and Recreation any Impact on Mental Health?

Leisure is difficult to accurately define as it can mean something to each individual. It can generally be defined as “some measure of time from which a person is released from those responsibilities which normally or routinely pertain to the duties they are compelled to perform.” ‘Leisure’ is often used as an expression referring to the periods of time in which a person is freed from paid work at a job. However, leisure can also include the times an individual is free from other compulsory, but unpaid duties, such as child care, home or other maintenance, or personal obligations and matters. It is therefore important to note that leisure definitions can really only be established once the element of choice is applied. This means either an activity or non activity differing from a person’s normal, structured routine. An element of satisfaction is also vital to include when defining leisure and recreation, by way of some attribute that the individual finds enjoyable. ‘Recreation’ is usually used to describe more active leisure pursuits. In essence, leisure and recreation involve making choices about personal free time activities. McDonnell and Hardman [2010] recognise that ‘leisure and recreation is not only difficult to define as it varies according to the individual, it is also difficult to assign to a certain ‘category’ as the definitions change over time.’ They state that, for example, ‘the current rampant technological pastimes of web surfing, interactive gaming, and internet chat were non-existent in past decades and were preceded by other forms of entertainment’. Different generations will have differing views of leisure and recreation due to the resources and services that were available to them at the time. This essay will focus on leisure and recreation and its impact on and individual’s mental health.

The National Community Advisory Group on Mental Health [1994] defined mental health care...