Recent Posts

A Movie of Glitches: Living Life with OCD

My life constantly glitches. I often get caught up in one moment and have...

Wisdom from the Well Eating Disorders

Lovoria Williams, Ph.D., FNP-BC, FAANP, is an Associate Professor in the...

Is My Child At-Risk For ADHD?

Have you ever thought your child may be exhibiting signs of Attention...

Suicide Risk Factors

This is the story of John. John is 45 years old and has recently...

Feed Your Mind

Welcome back to Mental Health Research Jeopardy. Today’s theme is mental...

How Does Architecture Contribute to Positive Mental Health Outcomes?

Prior to the beginning of the century, very little literature existed that...

Breaking the Stigma

This is the first-hand story of a woman struggling with postpartum ...

Wisdom from the Well: Feeling Stuck

Lee Anne Walmsley, Ph.D., EdS, MSN, RN, is an Assistant Professor in the...

Wisdom from the Well: Seasonal Affective Dissorder

Lovoria Williams, Ph.D., FNP-BC, FAANP, is an Associate Professor in the...

Tips for Raising Children Living with ADHD

Do you have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?...

6 Ways Occupational Therapists Can Support People Living with Mental Illnesses

Claudia Robertson
April 29, 2020

Occupational therapists work to help individuals improve everyday life skills so that they can better participate in home, school, work or wherever they may be. Many people know occupational therapists help children with disabilities or adults recovering from injury. BUT did you know that occupational therapists also help people living with mental illnesses?


According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, there are six main evidence-based ways that occupational therapists can help individuals living with mental illnesses.

  1. Life and social skills training

An occupational therapist can help people learn skills that will help lead to their own independence. This includes budgeting, shopping, and meal preparation. However, people can also learn how to cope with stress and to advocate for their mental health needs. These skills can help someone living with a mental illness to more successfully interact with others.

  1. Cognitive skills training

Experts now know that the brain can adapt and change. Cognitive skills can help people develop problem solving strategies, learn frustration tolerance, and even enhance the person’s self-esteem. All of these skills are necessary to be successful for reaching one’s life goals.

  1. Health behavior interventions

There are ways to help individuals living with mental illnesses to improve their health behaviors. Several interventions can be used to teach symptom self-management, adherence to medications and reducing risky behaviors. A positive outcome of improved health behaviors is reduced health care costs.

  1. Post-secondary education skills training

Individuals living with mental illness can work with an occupational therapist to learn how to adapt to college. This can include learning how to adapt their living and learning environments to allow for participation and success. Self-determination, self-management, adapting and providing accommodations, and teaching daily routines are some ways a person can work toward success in college.

  1. Physical activity

Movement typically improves mood. Slow stretches and movement with targeted breathing are techniques that can help decrease symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. No matter how you move, move. It can help. Occupational therapists can help a person to be more mindful of their body.

  1. Social cognition and program solving training

An occupational therapist can help an individual living with mental illness to first identify areas considered problematic. Techniques taught include reasoning, goal setting and implementation of a planned solution.


Feel like YOU or someone you know could benefit from occupational therapy? Find a list of licensed therapists in Kentucky here and in the United States here .

For more information on evidence-based occupational therapy practice, click here .