Lesley Spada, Occupational Therapist at Full Circle Health Network, focuses her practice on helping adults with mental illness or difficulties maintaining the stability of their mental health. Today we are going to explore this concept further, while diving into the connection between Occupational Therapy and mental health.

Life is made up of meaningful everyday activities or occupations such as walking the dog, gardening, preparing a meal, painting, doing the laundry and playing games. Occupations are part of life; they describe who we are and how we feel about ourselves. To say the least, occupations help bring meaning to life.  

What Do Occupational Therapists Do?

Occupational Therapists work with clients and their families to identify the occupations and activities that are important for family and personal life. Below are a few ways that Occupational Therapists work with their clients:

  • They help to plan, initiate and track short and long term goals that enable participation in those activities.
  • Teach practical ways to cope with the effects of mental illness e.g. relaxation techniques.
  • Work with clients to better understand the impact of mental illness.
  • Help replace unhealthy activities, such as substance abuse, with healthy, meaningful activities.
  • Assess skills, interests, values, and strengths in order to help clients maintain, modify or find appropriate employment.
  • Implement activities that teach valuable skills e.g. social skills training with a peer support group.
  • Help structure lives and organize daily activities so that clients can balance everything they want, need or are expected to do.

Occupational Therapy and Mental Health

Occupational therapy recognizes that everyday occupational engagement influences mental and physical health. Occupational therapists believe that occupational performance, organization, choice and satisfaction are determined by the relationship between persons and their environments.

Their approach to mental health with this unique perspective that considers a person’s needs within context of family and community. This client centred philosophy is consistent with Canada’s mental health reforms.

When we can’t participate in daily occupations, due to injury, illness, disabilities or social and environmental circumstances, occupational therapists help find solutions to address the meaningful everyday activities of life. Occupational therapy also helps prevent disability or illness and enhances the way we participate in our communities and lives. Occupational therapy helps us engage in the occupation of living.

Here are a few quotes that truly put into perspective the lens that Occupational Therapists look through when helping others:

  • “I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” – Helen Keller

  • “Three grand essentials to happiness in life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” – Joseph Addison

  • “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all” – Martin Luther King

  • You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step – Martin Luther King Jr.

Next Steps

Learn more about how Occupational Therapy can help people of all ages and abilities work through their personal struggles to lead a more fulfilling life. Check out these success stories shared through OTOntario:

To book an appointment with Lesley Spada, click the link below: