What does an Occupational Therapist do in Mental Health?

13 Sep, 2021

Contrary to the common misconception, occupational therapy is not limited to physical rehabilitation and pediatric services. Although occupational therapists (OTs) are rarely associated with mental health, you will find these health professionals working in mental health settings on some occasions.

Health experts from Gen Physio have prepared a comprehensive discussion about the role of occupational therapists in mental health.

Mental Health Occupational Therapists

Overview of Occupational Therapy and Mental Health

Occupational therapy has its roots in mental health. Although most OTs today work in pediatrics and physical rehabs, at some point earlier, most of them worked in mental health facilities. The shift occurred over the past decade; hence why the practice is commonly associated with physical rehabs. Fortunately, the current mental health care system promises to increase the number of mental health OTs in Australia.

What do Mental Health Occupational Therapists do?

OTs receive holistic training that makes them well-suited to work in mental health settings. Apart from physical well-being, the training of OTs includes disciplines such as;

  • Sensory strategies
  • Socio-emotional skills
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Group process
  • Therapeutic alliances

The ultimate focus of any OT’s work is to assist their patients to participate in daily routines such as self-care, social activities, and other productive activities. Like in any other occupational therapy setting, mental health OTs play a critical role in restoring their patients’ ability to participate in everyday occupations.

Common OT Interventions in Mental Health

Discharge Preparedness Assessments

OTs are well-trained in standardised assessments used to assess your discharge preparedness. Your treatment team can use the mental health OT’s report to determine whether you will need more care and even gauge the progress of your treatment process.

Providing Sensory, Grounding, and Calming Strategies

Occupational therapists believe that participation in everyday activities is essential for quality mental well-being. This is why they use routine activities as a coping mechanism for their patients. Such activities may include doodling, listening to music, and cooking. These help in skill development and work as a calming strategy.

Mental health OTs are also well versed with sensory strategies. An average person is able to process information signals from the environment through the sensory system. However, people with mental health conditions may encounter challenges processing such information. Mental health OTs work with people feeling unsafe or agitated due to their compromised sensory abilities.

Addressing Mental Health Patients’ Physical Well-being

OTs are more skilled in physical rehabilitation than many other qualified mental health professionals. Mental health issues are often connected to underlying physical health issues. For this reason, you may find occupational therapists recommending adaptive practices and equipment for patients in care facilities and addressing their general body strengthening.

Looking for a Qualified Occupational Therapist in Australia? Contact us Today

Any occupational therapy session aims to help patients identify treatment goals and learn how to achieve those goals, regardless of the treatment approach. At Gen Physio, we provide mobile occupational therapy and our mental health OTs work with patients under different mental healthcare plans to improve their health quality. Please get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation.

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