CE Article: Integrating Mental Health Knowledge and Skills Into Academic and Fieldwork Education
Donna Costa, DHS, OTR/L, FAOTA, Rivka Molinsky, OTR/L, Judith Parker Kent, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA, and Camille Sauerwald, EdM, OTR
Earn .1 AOTA CEU (1.25 NBCOT PDU/1 contact hour)
The profession of occupational therapy has firm roots in mental health practice; occupational therapy practitioners have the knowledge and skills to provide psychosocial services to children and adults in order to promote participation in those activities and roles that they need and want in their lives. The profession of occupational therapy at one point in our history was considered “one of the most valued services for people with mental health disorders…an essential component of the treatment arsenal for people with psychiatric disorders” (Gutman, 2011, p. 235). Yet in 2010 only 3% of occupational therapists and 2.4% of occupational therapy assistants reported their primary work setting to be in a mental health practice setting (American Occupational Therapy association [AOTA], 2010a). It is becoming increasingly challenging for new graduates to enter mental health practice positions when they may not have had an opportunity to develop entry-level competencies in a mental health practice setting during Level I or II fieldwork.
This article will discuss mental health competencies and innovative ways in which they can be incorporated into academic and clinical education. It will also emphasize the importance of using those competencies in practice areas other than mental health. With the decrease in the number of occupational therapy practitioners working in mental health practice settings, there are also fewer available fieldwork sites. To support the continued competency of occupational therapy practitioners in mental health practice, this article will identify key skills linked to new AOTA documents and Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education Standards, as well as describe innovative ways in which these documents and Standards can be incorporated into academic and clinical education.
After reading this article, you should be able to:
- Recognize the importance of entry-level mental health knowledge and skills that are applicable to all practice areas.
- Identify competencies related to mental health practice at the occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistant levels.
- Recognize learning activities that can be used both in academic and fieldwork education in order to develop mental health knowledge and skills.
Learning Level: Intermediate
Target audience: Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants
Content: Category 3: Professional Issues, OT Education
Costa, D., Molinsky, R., Kent, J., Sauerwald, C., (2011). Integrating Mental Health Knowledge and Skills Into Academic and Fieldwork Education. OT Practice, 16(10), CE-1–CE-8.
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