According to the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Summer 2013 newsletter, Certification Matters, of the 29,000 occupational therapist registered (OTR) and certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) who renewed their certification by March 2013, the breakdown is as follows regarding ‘To Whom Do You Provide the Majority of OT Services or Programs’ (OTRs/COTAs):
- Developmental Disorders: 30% / 18%
- Musculoskeletal/Orthopedic: 25% / 30%
- General Medical/Systemic: 16% / 24%
- Neurological Disorders: 16% / 11%
- Cognitive Disorders: 2% / 4%
- Cardiopulmonary Dysfunction: 2% / 3%
- Psychosocial Dysfunction: 1% / 1%
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. “With suicide claiming more lives than war and homicide combined, the event will call attention to the treatable mental health issues that underlie most suicide attempts.” As an occupational therapist (OT) in mental health I’m surprised how low the Psychosocial Dysfunction numbers are as well as Cognitive Disorders.
OTs have the knowledge, skills, and training to help an individual with a mental illness or disorder. Depression and depressive disorders and schizophrenia and psychotic disorders are the more common diagnoses that OTs work with and treat. We assess skills, strengths, abilities, grade activities accordingly, and modify the environment as needed to help a person have the best quality of life possible given their situation and circumstances. OTs are good at working with an individual and identifying what motivates that person and gives his/her life meaning, what helps him/her get out of bed in the morning, and to provide hope even if a person is feeling helpless or suicidal.
M. Terry Bowman OTR/L is a registered and licensed occupational therapist that provides occupational therapy services to adults in the community with mental health and wellness needs in the San Francisco Bay Area.