What is an Occupational Therapist within Mental Health Services?
Occupational Therapists (OTs) work with people to establish or re-establish independence and meaningful activity; the word ‘occupation’ refers to anything that people do.
Occupational therapists are interested in how people live their lives. They help people to become as able as possible wherever they live, and whatever health issues they may have.
Occupational therapists use ‘doing’ as the therapy. They think with the people they work with about all areas of their lives; any activities that they do or would like to do that are important to them such as school/college/ lifelong learning, leisure, activities with family and friends, and work.
OTs are flexible and adopt an holistic approach to their work. They assess the person’s needs and discuss their goals and hopes, then look at the activities the person finds difficult and see if there is an alternative way of doing them. Their overall aim is to help people improve their independence and ultimately participate in the things which are most meaningful to them. OTs will identify and eliminate barriers – both emotionally and physically – to independence and participation.
Occupational therapists may support people with mental health conditions by helping them with their daily life, whether this be building confidence to go to the shops or joining a group, or learning more about their diagnosis or struggles so that they can better understand themselves. OTs can also recommend and supply certain types of equipment to make physical tasks easier.
How can I access an Occupational Therapist?
You can get occupational therapy free through the NHS or social services, depending on your situation.
- speak to your GP practice about a referral
- search for your local council to ask if you can get occupational therapy
You can also pay for it yourself. The Royal College of Occupational Therapists lists qualified and registered occupational therapists: https://www.rcot.co.uk/