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Occupational Therapy and Mental Health

09th January 2017

I have lost track of the amount of times I have heard questions and statements like the following:

‘You accept Mental Health Care Plans? But aren’t you an Occupational Therapist?”

‘I didn’t realise Occupational Therapists worked in Mental Health’


Occupational therapists work in many areas and this can impact on people’s perception of what we do. For someone who has accessed an OT for Rehab following a stroke, they may think we work on upper limb rehab only. For someone who has accessed an OT for a Return to Work program, they may think our role is related to helping people in the workplace.


Occupational Therapists are defined as:

Health Professionals who enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do.


As a Mental Health OT, I can work in a variety of ways. I can:


  • Assess a child’s developmental functioning to help the child and their families understand and make meaning of strengths and vulnerabilities


  • Work with families, education providers and children to help make sense of behaviours, while working towards solutions


  • Work with families to understand and connect with each other


  • Work with the child and family to understand and cope with their emotions or mental health concerns


Within sessions, this can be achieved in a variety of ways. Strategies and recommendations are varied and offered after careful consideration of the child and their family.   It is not a case of throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks, but listening and respecting the families who access our service.


At Head Start Children’s Therapy Services, we look forward to working with you and your family.