Level IIA Fieldwork – Behavioral Health

Okay, I’ve been meaning to write about this forever, but I had to get permission from my FWE to write first and then I got so busy that it never happened.

I’m currently at a behavioral health facility, which is AWESOME because ever since I decided I wanted to do OT I have wanted to go into mental health. However, I now know that there are not so many opportunities to work in the mental health practice area because insurance has stopped covering OT services. According to the last OT Practice issue, I think our numbers have fallen from about 30-60% practicing in the field (or something like that)to about 3%. 🙁

I guess in one way it makes sense because mental health facilities are no longer institutionalized, so there is less need of occupational therapists to make sure the patients aren’t isolating in their rooms all day or being left alone with no social interaction. However, I still think there is a need for occupational therapists to make sure people don’t end up back in the hospitals, and that they have adequate skills for coping, participating in leisure activities, and engaging socially.

The latter is still the focus of OT in mental health (at least at the facility I’m currently at), but I just wish it was covered so there were more job opportunities.

Pushing aside my career woes, I really like this setting because I get to see the inpatient side as well as partial hospital, and I get to work with people of all ages- the elderly, adults, and adolescents. I haven’t worked too much with the kiddos, but I have observed OT in the child partial hospital program, and that’s been really great too.

Since I work in such a diverse setting, I have a lot to write about… so you might get a whole bunch of posts about a variety of things in the next couple days, but my point in writing about this experience is to outline my experiences in more detail than what is going to be on my resume, and to outline (hopefully) my problem solving and clinical reasoning skill building.

I suppose I have to stick out somehow among all the applicants applying for those sparse mental health jobs!

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