Mental health service provision is a longstanding and core area of practice for occupational therapists dating back to the beginning of the profession. Occupational therapists work across the spectrum of mental illness, providing services to people with mild, moderate and severe mental health conditions. They deliver services to people with relatively common conditions such as anxiety disorders, as well as more severe conditions that require targeted interventions, such as psychosis and trauma-related disorders.
Occupational therapists provide strengths-based, behaviourally-oriented and goal-directed services to improve mental health and wellbeing, and to help a person access personally relevant and valued roles in life. OTs take a holistic, person-centred approach focussed on supporting an individual to function and experience enhanced wellbeing through participation in the activities and environments of their daily life.
Despite this important role, OTA continues to hear from OTs who report that the role of OT within the mental health services space is not well understood by the broader community. A lack of understanding and awareness of OT services to support mental wellbeing inhibits individuals’ access to those services. OTA has redoubled its efforts to raise awareness of the role of OTs in mental health, making numerous submissions to reviews of mental health services and funding.
- OTA continues to engage with government and other key stakeholders to educate and advocate for the role and unique contribution of OTs in providing mental health services.
- OTA continues to seek opportunities to collaborate with sector organisations to enhance opportunities for OTs to engage in mental health service delivery.
In July 2021, OTA was invited to appear before the Select Standing Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. OTA later provided written responses to two questions taken on notice at the hearing. OTA’s written responses are available on the Australian parliamentary website here.
OTA has also commenced a major project that seeks to re-position the profession as a key part of the contemporary mental health system and to significantly expand OTA’s capacity to support and advocate for occupational therapists working in mental health. For more information go to https://otaus.com.au/media-and-advocacy/mental-health-paper.
Relevant Submissions and Correspondence
- OTA Submission Productivity Commission Mental Health Issues Paper
- OTA Submission ALP Mental Health Discussion Paper
- Letter to Dr Umit Agis
- OTA response to the MBS Mental Health Reference Group Report
- Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System
How You Can Help
Write to OTA and tell us about a day in the life of an OT working in mental health. This will help us to tell the story of OTs in mental health to the broader community, and increase awareness of how OTs can support those accessing mental health care services.
OTA welcomes other feedback about your experience of working in mental health.
To provide your feedback on this important issue, please contact OTA.