The Indian Journal of Occupational Therapy

: 2020  |  Volume : 52  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 113--114

Occupational therapy practice in mental health

Lakshmanan Sethuraman1, Punita V Solanki2, Anil K Srivastava3,  
1 Executive Editor, The Indian Journal of Occupational
2 Editor, The Indian Journal of Occupational Therapy
3 Editor in Chief, The Indian Journal of Occupational Therapy

Correspondence Address:
Lakshmanan Sethuraman
Executive Editor, The Indian Journal of Occupational Therapy, Senior Occupational Therapist, Centre for Addiction Medicine, NIMHANS, Bangalore, India

How to cite this article:
Sethuraman L, Solanki PV, Srivastava AK. Occupational therapy practice in mental health.Indian J Occup Ther 2020;52:113-114

How to cite this URL:
Sethuraman L, Solanki PV, Srivastava AK. Occupational therapy practice in mental health. Indian J Occup Ther [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Dec 7 ];52:113-114
Available from:

Full Text

Even though the profession of occupational therapy (OT) has its roots in helping people to maintain sound mental health, newer generation of therapists is focused more on physical rehabilitation and sensory integration. Across the globe, growth in the field of mental health specialization has not kept pace with other specializations after deinstitutionalization. OT positions remained vacant for a longer period in mental health settings, and there was a steady decline in the number of therapists working in the mental health settings over the decades. Evidence for the effectiveness of OT services in the mental health problems with high prevalence was not adequately documented in the literature over the years,[1],[2],[3] and the profession paid the price by losing its place in the mental health sphere not only in practice but also in the legislations such as Mental Health Act 2017 where due recognition was not provided to the Occupational Therapists as mental health professionals. All India Occupational Therapists' Association tried its best by representing to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the issue and is considering the legal course of action for the same. Role expectations of few occupational therapists working in mental health settings are also becoming ambiguous. Therapists working in mental health settings are citing high workload and insufficient use of OT skills as the major constraints at the workplace.[4]

Despite all these limitations, evidence for the OT interventions focusing on functional recovery of adults with mental illness in specific to occupation-based outcomes is increasing over the past decade, suggesting the profession is making the progress. Recent literature adds evidence about the effectiveness of occupational engagement, interventions based on time use, exploring family-oriented OT interventions, and animal-assisted therapy in addition to strengthening the evidence for the use of creative occupations, activity-based interventions, group interventions, and vocational interventions. More controlled trials are essential to build evidence based for OT interventions in mental health.[3]

Mental health is a global concern today which is evident from the increase in services sought and Mental Health Gap Action Programme by the World Health Organization. OT as a profession will prosper, may also expand its horizon to widen the scope of practice, and will reach newer heights without therapists specializing in this domain, however, millions with mental health issues and in need of OT, will not get the valuable services. The regulatory bodies across the globe have to act beyond their position statements to ensure the services available for the needy. It is very important to consider making mental health practice placements compulsory and emphasizing mental health legislation with practical applications while reviewing university curricula.[5]

The Indian Journal of OT (IJOT) started its journey in 1952 and it is the only journal in the country to publish the work of occupational therapists exclusively. The IJOT has been publishing research works in all specialty areas of OT including research in mental health. The IJOT is published quarterly as per ISSN registration, and the last issue of each volume is a specialty edition since 2017. On that note, the theme for the current issue is “Psychological and Emotional Well-Being” which is the need of the hour in the pandemic era.

The current specialty issue of the IJOT comprises a guest editorial from Dr. Supat Chupradit and Dr. Senthil Vadivel, five original articles, and a case study.

The IJOT editorial board hopes new generation therapists will use the pandemic as the opportunity to ensure that OT services as essential to mental health are provided with appropriate services to the needy and embark on research to document the efficacy of such services in India.


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2Hitch D, Pépin G, Stagnitti K. Evidence for mental health occupational therapy. SAGE Open 2015;5:1-12. Available from: [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 01].
4Kirsh B, Martin L, Hultqvist J, Eklund M. Occupational therapy interventions in mental health: A literature review in search of evidence. Occup Ther Ment Heal 2019;35:109-156.
5Hayes R, Bull B, Hargreaves K, Shakespeare K. A survey of recruitment and retention issues for occupational therapists working clinically in mental health. Aust Occup Ther J 2008;55:12-22.
6Lloyd C, King R, Ryan L. The challenge of working in mental health settings: Perceptions of newly graduated occupational therapists. Br J Occup Ther 2007;70:460-470.