How can occupational therapy and mental health help you to get a better life
Occupational therapy is a social-health profession responsible for promoting the health and well-being of individuals with mental health disorders or disabilities. The occupational therapist must assess the residual skills, physical, psychological, social and sensory aspects of a patient, to implement therapeutic, personal care and recreational measures that maximize the degree of functionality, increase the quality of life and prevent disability.
The main objectives of occupational therapy in mental health are to prevent disabilities associated with mental, physical and sensory disorders, which limit the development of activities in a social, family and work environment. Also, to restore residual abilities, to achieve the highest degree of independence and readaptation of the environment.
The occupational therapist works within an interdisciplinary team, and puts into practice his knowledge and skills in hospitals, health centers, rehabilitation clinics, private residences, schools, juvenile prisons and homes for the elderly. The areas of work of occupational therapy in health are:
Physical and mental disabilities.
Autism: is a disorder present from the first months of an individual, which includes a set of persistent alterations in verbal and non-verbal communication, behavior, social and emotional interaction. The autistic patient usually presents a significant degree of retardation, uses language without a defined purpose, pays excessive and prolonged attention to moving objects, numbers or data, avoids eye contact and manifests unusual behaviors.
Visual impairment: includes light sensitivity, restricted visual field, severe visual limitation, visual field loss, color blindness and night blindness.
Mental health illnesses: despite the wide variety of mental disorders, in general these are characterized by alterations in perception, thinking, behavior, emotions and conduct. One of the most frequent disorders is depression, with an incidence of 300 million people worldwide, with a higher prevalence in women. This is followed by bipolar affective disorder, which affects 60 million people worldwide and is characterized by a combination of manic and depressive episodes with periods of normal mood
On the other hand, there is schizophrenia and psychosis with a worldwide incidence of 21 million people. Schizophrenia is characterized by the persistence of alterations in thinking, emotional, perception, language and behavior. In the case of psychosis, it is accompanied by hallucinations and delusions. Finally, dementia affects 47.5 million people in the world, consisting of progressive cognitive deterioration; impairing language, memory, orientation, thinking and judgment.
Language disorders: aphasia, dyslexia or hyperlexia are disorders characterized by impaired ability to express and understand symbolic, written or oral language.
Learning difficulties: hyperactivity or inattention are conditions that limit the ability to learn, write, read or reason.
Hearing disorders: may be of genetic, acquired or congenital origin and cause partial or total impairment.
Memory loss: may develop due to cognitive impairment due to age, brain injury, dementia or in some cases depression. The most frequent causes of memory loss are associated with stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
Geriatrics : the occupational therapist deals with both the sick and the healthy elderly. Intervention in the healthy elderly consists of preventive therapeutic measures (fall prevention) to maintain an optimal level of independence and communication. In the case of the sick elderly, the therapeutic measures are oriented towards the comprehensive rehabilitation of residual skills, to promote reintegration into a socio-familial environment and improve the quality of life.
Pediatrics: the occupational therapist is in charge of evaluating the abilities and skills of a child, to enhance the autonomy of physical or mental limitations (caused by disease, physical or psychological trauma, psychosocial disorders and difficulties in cognitive development) in the social, family and school environment, to prevent disabilities and promote the development of a normal life.
Utility of occupational therapy in mental health
Promotion of well-being and quality of life of patients.
Maximize autonomy in self-care and personal acceptance.
Reintegration into a social and family environment.
Promotion of skills and abilities necessary to perform daily life tasks.
Cognitive improvement (attention, memory, concentration, self-perception, reasoning, judgment and problem solving).