Mental health has been identified as a priority practice area for occupational therapy. However, recent research suggests that the number of occupational therapy practitioners working in mental health is declining. The purpose of this survey research study was to examine the extent to which occupational therapy (OT) and occupational therapy assistant (OTA) programs include mental health topics in their curricula. A link to an on-line survey was sent to program directors of OT and OTA programs in the United States. A total of 105 programs fully completed the survey (33% response rate). All of the respondents (n=105) reported that their curricula included content related to adult mental health conditions and interventions and 98.1% (n=103) included content related to 11 child and adolescent mental health conditions. Programs varied in how explicitly they focused on specific intervention strategies to support or improve mental health. Focused pre-service curricular content and intentional fieldwork experiences may help to ensure that OT practitioners are inducted into mental health settings and equipped to meet practice demands. Entry-level OT and OTA programs cover a broad range of mental health-related topics. More research is needed to understand why some topics are included in curricula at greater rates than others.
Brad E. Egan, OTD, MA, CADC, OTR/L has a doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Creighton University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Education from Northcentral University. He is an associate professor of Occupational Therapy and the Site Coordinator for the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program at Lenoir Rhyne University-Columbia, SC. Susan M. Cahill, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA has a PhD in Special Education from University of Illinois at Chicago. She is an associate professor of Occupational Therapy and the Director of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program at Lewis University.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declarations of interest.
Egan, B. E., & Cahill, S. M. (2017). National Survey to Identify Mental Health Topics in Entry-level OT and OTA Curricula: Implications for Occupational Therapy Education. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 1 (1). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2017.010104