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Taking care of your mental health in occupational therapy

Taking care of your mental health in occupational therapy

As you know, October is Occupational Therapy Month and the week of October 11 also marked Mental Health Awareness Week. But what is the link between these two concepts?

As occupational therapists at Action Sport Physio, you know us especially for the “physical health” aspect of our profession. We are professionals who help clients who physically injured themselves at work or who are heading towards returning to work and resuming their pre-injury activities. However, some occupational therapists at Action Sport Physio also work on the “mental health” component.

First, it seems like there’s a stigma attached to the phrase “mental health”, and it would be important to start by stressing that the words “mental health” are not bad. In other words, we all have “mental” health as well as “physical” health, both of which can sometimes require special attention. Most people are used to going to psychotherapy or psychological counseling to address these issues. Yet, an occupational therapist can also help. But how?

Sometimes people have to temporarily stop working for mental health reasons such as depression, burnout, or because they have suffered some form of psychological harassment. A family doctor or a third-party payer can ask an occupational therapist to get involved in parallel with a person’s follow-ups in psychological counseling. But why?

The occupational therapist can be consulted in addition to a psychologist when an individual is on sick leave due to a psychological disorder. Psychology helps with strategies for dealing with anxiety-inducing thoughts and stress, while occupational therapy helps the person to gradually resume activities that may have been abandoned or affected during this time. By teaching the individual to manage their occupational schedule, their energy or their pain, as well as by establishing short measurable and attainable objectives, the occupational therapist aims to promote a return to significant activities which, ultimately, give the individual a feeling of accomplishment and worth. The occupational therapist is also often called upon to establish a phased return-to-work schedule that will be approved by the insurer and the employer, if applicable.

Taking care of your mental health also means taking the time to find a balance between your activities.

And activity itself is at the heart of the fundamental principle of occupational therapy.

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