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NDIS and Recreational Therapy for Mental Health


Updated 05-01-2024

NDIS and Recreational Therapy for Mental Health

Recreational therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, is an innovative approach to improving the mental health and well-being of individuals living with various disabilities. In Australia, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plays a critical role in providing support for those seeking recreational therapy as a pathway to recovery and enhancement of their quality of life.

Understanding Recreational Therapy

Recreational therapy involves purposeful activities and experiences to achieve psychological, physical, social, and emotional well-being. It bridges the gap between what is clinical and enjoyable by incorporating the individual's interests into therapeutic practices that can spur healing and personal development.

The Role of Recreational Therapy in Mental Health

The therapeutic power of recreation is evident across many dimensions of mental health care. It helps in:

  • Reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression: Engaging in activities can provide individuals with a sense of achievement and joy, combating depressive states and the physical symptoms related to anxiety.

  • Alleviating stress: Recreational activities are known to reduce stress by providing a sense of relaxation and escape from everyday pressures.

  • Boosting self-esteem: Participation in chosen activities nurtures a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

  • Enhancing social skills: Group settings bring opportunities to connect with others, fostering relationships and community integration.

  • Improving cognitive functions: Activities that engage the brain aid in maintaining and improving cognitive abilities.

NDIS and Access to Recreational Therapy

The NDIS recognises the profound impact that mental health can have on a person's life and the potential benefits of recreational therapy. This inclusive insurance scheme provides Australians with disabilities, including those with psychosocial disabilities arising from mental health issues, access to necessary supports.

NDIS Funding for Recreational Therapy

Participants in NDIS can receive funding for therapeutic supports under the Capacity Building budgets, which may include:

  • Improved daily living skills: Tailoring therapeutic activities to enhance life skills and promote independence.

  • Increased social and community participation: Funding for programs that build and maintain social relationships through recreational activities.

  • Improved health and well-being: Supporting initiatives that focus on physical health, which in turn, can positively affect mental health.

Choosing the Right Recreational Therapist

It is essential to select a recreational therapist or provider that aligns with the individual’s needs, interests, and goals. The NDIS provides flexibility in choosing the support services that work best for the participant, ensuring personalised care.

Implementing Recreational Therapy in Daily Life

Individuals can incorporate recreational therapy into their daily routine by:

  • Setting personal goals: Understanding what one wishes to achieve through recreational therapy assists in measuring progress and remaining motivated.

  • Identifying enjoyable activities: Whether it's art, music, sports, or any other hobby, choosing enjoyable activities can lead to a better therapeutic outcome.

  • Building a support network: Engaging with peers, family, and friends in recreational activities can enhance the social benefits of therapy.

Best Practices for Effective Recreational Therapy

  • Individualised approach: Each therapy program should be tailored to the individual, considering personal goals, preferences, and challenges.

  • Holistic intervention: A multidisciplinary approach that considers all aspects of an individual’s life will yield the most favourable results.

  • Evaluation and adaptation: Ongoing assessment of the recreational therapy process ensures it remains effective and aligned with changing needs.


Recreational therapy stands out as a key component of mental health rehabilitation and maintenance. Through the support of the NDIS, Australians experiencing mental health issues have greater access to this transformative approach to therapy. The flexibility offered by the scheme enables individuals to seek out customised therapeutic activities that not only foster healing but also align with their personal aspirations for social interaction and community involvement. By integrating recreational therapy into mental health strategies, Australia advances towards a future where individuals with disabilities receive holistic, dignifying, and deeply beneficial care.

About the Author

Alex is an esteemed expert in assistive technology and disability support services, he holds a unique blend of professional expertise and personal dedication to enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities. With over a decade of experience in research and development, Alex has been at the forefront of integrating cutting-edge assistive technologies into practical support solutions. Renowned for his empathetic approach and strong advocacy for disability rights, Alex’s work extends beyond academic research to hands-on involvement in community initiatives and policy advisory roles. A prolific writer, his articles are widely acclaimed for their insightful analysis, clear communication, and commitment to ethical considerations in technology use.

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