It is estimated that 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness throughout their lifetime (Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health 2012).
"There is increasing evidence that absenteeism, productivity and morale are intricately linked to the health of employees. Research concludes that every year, mental health issues cost Canada's employers billions of dollars in lost productivity." (Occupational Therapy and Workplace Mental Health, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, CAOT). At this time, not all employers are able to offer "in house programs" to support their employees in management of their mental health at work.
Occupational Therapist's can play a role in providing intervention that could target how client's (employees) can improve management of their mental health symptoms and return to work and stay at work longer. One approach TSR employs is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
CBT is, "an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that has become increasingly popular in recent years as research evidence has mounted to support its use as an intervention for a variety of conditions... CBT focuses on the interactions between thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It is a structured approach, involving education, skill building and problem solving in order to help clients change their patterns of thinking, behaviour and/or emotional response" (Moll, S. et al., 2016).
- Corale works as a Human Resources Manager for a large software company. She is becoming more and more stressed at work as the company is constantly changing and evolving. It is a requirement of her job that she keep up with the changes by implementing new strategic plans and keeping her employees in the loop.
- Corale finds that she is working twelve hour days, six days a week and does not have time to engage in meaningful social and leisure activities with friends and family. Corale has also noticed an increase in fatigue and anxiety, and a decline in her ability to manage her mood, self-care, daily routine, and work performance (i.e. making mistakes, misplacing work files, and showing up late to important meetings). Corale followed up with her family doctor and was advised to take time off work. Corale went off work as advised and was later referred by her disability carrier to Occupational Therapy Services for CBT intervention to assist her with behavioural activation, and return to work focused goals in preparation for a return to work.
How can an Occupational Therapist help Corale using a CBT approach?
- Work with her to better understand the impact of her mental health problems on participation in daily routine and productive activity.
- Assist her to identify performance goals based on barriers to return to work and/or as relates to her current mental health symptoms.
- Address task breakdown related to onset of stress symptoms.
- Set her on a course of Behavioural Activation using CBT based tools (activity planning and scheduling sheets, task achievement records, and mood tracking).
- Assist her to develop coping strategies.
- Help her to assess, identify and address her reported symptoms of anxiety based on analysis of situation, thoughts and feeling that might arise over the course of the week and/or at work.
- Encourage exposure to work simulation and/or social situations that mimic work in preparation for a return to work.
- When appropriate, link Corale with external resources within the community that she could employ post Occupational Therapy intervention (i.e. peer support groups or other).
Occupational Therapist's are skilled in progressing clients from perceived disability to perceived ability with implementation of meaningful tools to address individual performance needs, and CBT intervention is one of those tools
- Moll, S., Detwiler, L., Marshall, C., Good, C., Eisen, S. & Tryssenaar, J. A Compendium of Counselling and Psychotherapy Resources for Occupational Therapists.
- CAOT - caot.ca
For more information about TSR's Co
gnitive Work Hardening Progra
m, please call us at (866-487-3877) ext 2 or