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Occupational therapy in mental health services

Occupational therapy helps you improve your mental health through everyday activities that bring meaning and purpose to your life.

These activities can be done:

  • on your own
  • with your family or friends
  • as part of a community

They include any activity that you:

  • need to do
  • want to do
  • are expected to do

The main goal of occupational therapy is to help you participate in meaningful activities of everyday life. Your occupational therapist will work with you to improve your day-to-day life through your skills, your job, and your environment.


If you are referred to occupational therapy your occupational therapist will assess you.

They will look at your daily routine with you. This will include the activities that you are doing well, and activities you are having difficulty with.

They will try to get a better understanding of who you are and the daily challenges that you're facing.

They will look at your:

  • role as a care giver or family member
  • environment – for example your social, home, cultural or physical environment
  • interests
  • habits, routines and use of time
  • functional performance skills – for example, motor, sensory, cognitive or social skills
  • independent living and community integration skills

They can then recommend an intervention plan for you which is based on your needs.

Shared decision-making is an important part of occupational therapy. This means that your occupational therapist will work with you to develop collaborative goals. These will help you take part in the activities you need and want to do.

Intervention plan

Your occupational therapist may recommend any of the following things as part of your intervention plan:

  • Developing or returning to healthy habits and routines.
  • Participating in leisure activities again, or trying out new leisure activities.
  • Learning new skills through education, work or training to help you participate in your preferred worker role.
  • Improving your functional abilities — such as planning, problem-solving and decision-making skills.
  • Developing personal skills that can help you to live more independently.
  • Improving your community participation skills, for example by building community networks or accessing transport.
  • Improving your communication and social skills.
  • Making changes to your environment that can help you take part in meaningful activities.
  • Taking part in group-based activities such as Lifestyle Redesign, which helps you think about your current lifestyle and explore any changes you might like to make.

These activities can either be done in one-on-one or group sessions.

Your occupational therapist will regularly review and adapt the intervention plan to meet your needs.

Page last reviewed: 1 September 2022
Next review due: 1 September 2025