What is a Mental Health Occupational Therapist?

by | Sep 23, 2019 | What to expect | 1 comment

Life is made up of meaningful everyday activities or occupations such as walking, gardening, preparing a meal, painting, doing the laundry or playing with your children. Occupations are part of life; they describe who we are and how we feel about ourselves. Occupations help bring meaning to life. Occupational therapy recognizes that everyday occupational engagement influences mental and physical health. Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress and personality disorders can impact upon a person’s ability to engage in meaningful activities.

Mental health occupational therapists believe that engagement in meaningful and purposeful occupations contributes to a person regaining a sense of achievement, self-esteem and well being that may have been affected by their mental illness. Mental Health occupational therapists work with people across the life span using a client-centered approach to gain an understanding of the various factors impacting upon their participation in everyday occupations including motivation, learnt behaviours and patterns, abilities (physical and mental), and environment. Mental health occupational therapists use individual and group programs and activities to overcome any barriers that exist in their ability to participate in the occupations of everyday life.

Occupational therapists can:
– Assist clients to develop the skills needed for independent living such as managing one’s home, meal preparation, and accessing the community.
– Facilitate participation in activities of daily living (e.g., hygiene and grooming).
– Evaluate and modify the environment at home, work, school, and other areas to promote an individual’s optimal functioning.
– Assist clients to deal with stress and emotions more easily.
– Explore education and vocational interests and gain meaningful employment.
– Work with clients to develop and engage in leisure and social pursuits.
– Develop communication skills.
– Enhance structured routine development.
– Provide educational programs to address assertiveness, self-awareness, interpersonal and social skills, stress management, and role development (e.g., parenting).
– Provide evaluation and treatment for sensory processing deficits.