How did OTs get Started in Mental Health?
The origins of occupational therapy are deeply connected to mental health with a focus on holistically addressing the entire wellness of those we serve. "OT practitioners work with people in a manner to help foster hope, motivation, and empowerment, as well as system. change."
Addressing mental wellness is inextricably linked with understanding and supporting a person's purpose and meaning. Occupational therapy does exactly that.
Where are the OTs in mental health?
Any OT that adheres to the fundamental principles of occupation-based and client-centered practice will be addressing mental health. It is inevitable. There are certainly therapists that practice "directly" in the field of mental health, but regardless of setting, psychosocial principles should always be appreciated. To fully engage in the occupational therapy process, one must consider mental health.
How does OT practice differ from others in the mental health field?
Occupational therapy is supportive of other mental health providers. Successful engagement in desired occupation for a person that is struggling with mental wellness increases the effectiveness of other treatment modalities. OTs seek to collaborate with other professionals to create the best outcome for the people they serve. OT focuses on using meaningful aspects of a person's life and exploring how to use occupations to support a path to mental wellness. By its nature, this is mental health intervention
Why is this important now?
Our nation is facing a mental health crisis. It is estimated that an additional 7500 mental health professionals are required to meet an ever-growing need. Due to concentrations of practitioners on the coasts and urban environments, Arkansas is facing an even more dire situation. Occupational Therapists have within their scope of practice, knowledge, and skillset to be a significant contributor to addressing the mental health needs in Arkansas. Resources are being allocated and decisions are centered, and non-pharmaceutical approach should be the forefront. Occupational therapists must share their unique and effective discipline.
If you are interested in learning more or participating in increasing OTs role in mental health in Arkansas please contact Noah Hansen Noah.Hansen@achehealth.edu
Champagne, T. & Gray, K (2018). Occupational therapy's role with mental health recovery. American Occupational Therapy Association.
Kuehn, B. M. (2022). Clinical shortage exacerbates pandemic-fueled " mental health crisis", JAMA 327(22).