Occupational Therapy Interventions in Mental Health: Is there Sufficient Evidence?

Occupational Therapy Interventions in Mental Health: Is there Sufficient Evidence?

In a recent article titled “Occupational Therapy Interventions in Mental Health: A Literature Review in Search of Evidence” by Bonnie Kirsh, Lori Martin, Jenny Hulqvist, and Mona Eklund, the authors examined Fifty peer-reviewed OT intervention studies, targeting adults with mental health concerns, and their outcomes. The article demonstrated, and the authors concluded that in order to establish a solid evidence base for OT interventions in adult mental health, further research and higher quality evidence is necessary for stronger conclusions.

Across the studies, the positive impact of many Occupational Therapy interventions was clear, and although the evidence was limited in certain categories of intervention, including Psychoeducation, OT interventions using group or family approaches, or Animal-assisted approaches, a growing body of evidence showing possible beneficial effects across these categories, was also observed. Here’s a list of the OT Intervention categories uncovered in the article:

  • Employment/Education
  • Psychoeducation
  • Creative Occupations/Activity
  • Time-Use/Occupational Balance
  • Skills/Habit Development
  • Group/Family approaches
  • Animal-assisted Therapy

For more details on the findings for each category, see a recently published breakdown by CAOT, http://caot-bc.blogspot.com/2019/08/evidence-for-your-practice-occupational.html

Examples of Poor Mental Health:

  • Being stressed or overwhelmed – could be caused by work, relationships, school, finances, etc.
  • Feeling sad over a loss
  • Feeling anxious due to an obligation such as a test, an important meeting, or event
  • Feelings of being unfulfilled due to a lack of self-care
  • Experiencing compassion fatigue or burnout

What can you do as an Employer?

  • Ensure that you have audited your workplace for psychological risk factors
  • Consider psychological health when planning workplace supports and programs
  • Train your managers on ways to support employee mental health
  • Provide employees with training and support for mental health resilience
  • As a leader in your workplace, model healthy workplace behaviours for mental health

How can we Take Care of Our Mental Health?

  • Practice gratitude – focus on the things in your life that you are grateful for
  • Practice mindfulness – try grounding techniques and being present in the moment
  • Take time for things that matter to you – hobbies, reading, getting out in nature, etc.
  • Engage in social interactions – laughing with friends and spending time with loved ones
  • Participate in physical resiliency activities such as exercise, sports, or going for walks

How can Gowan Consulting Help?

Gowan Consulting has many resources for assisting with managing mental health in the workplace. We’re in a new era of inspiring positive change surrounding mental health in the workplace, and we want to talk about it, understand it, and be open about it!

Gowan Consulting can assist with auditing for risks and implementing the psychological health and safety in the workplace standards. Our Occupational Therapists can provide training to your managers on supporting mental health in the workplace and provide training for employees on mental health resiliency.

For more on all we have to offer, contact us! We want to help make the difference in your healthy business!

Works cited:

Evidence for your Practice: Occupational Therapy Interventions in Mental Health, by Jenna Zedel


Occupational Therapy Interventions in Mental Health: A Literature Review in Search of Evidence, by Bonnie Kirsh, Lori Martin, Jenny Helqvist, and Mona Eklund


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