Clinical Reflection – The Role of Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Supports

August 29, 2022

Total Health Physio has been supporting a wonderful person in Cranbourne, VIC who is living with complex mental health challenges.

Our role has been to support her with Occupational Therapy as well as to assist her through an urgent NDIS Plan Review.

A standard NDIS Plan Review generally takes place annually. An urgent NDIS plan review takes place when a change in someone’s circumstances means they need access to additional support.

The trigger for an urgent review may include changes to their health, living arrangements or other changes such as employment status.

In this case, our Occupational Therapist was contacted to provide specific interventions to the client and support their mental health.

As with all clients, with Trust, Compassion and Care we are here to help people become their healthiest selves.

Initial Assessment

A holistic initial assessment was undertaken to ensure our team had an understanding of the challenges the client was facing.

Her case was complex, and her diagnoses included:

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Issues with memory
  • Pubic symphysis dysfunction
  • Sciatica

A full functional assessment was carried out to determine physical capabilities such as mobility and balance.

The Occupational Therapist also assessed her for biomechanical issues (which relates to the ways in which mental health can affect physical health and wellbeing) and her ability to access the community and additional support services.

Identifying Meaningful Goals

The immediate aim was to help the client with her urgent Plan Review to confirm that she could access additional funding for the treatments that she needed.

As part of this process, we worked with her to identify her goals for the new NDIS plan.

When discussing her priorities, she highlighted the following goals:

  • To improve her self-management and confidence by creating routines for her everyday life
  • To have opportunities for social activities
  • To engage in further study and volunteering activities

With clear goals put in place, we can begin our meaningful journey towards achieving them!


This assessment resulted in the Occupational Therapist recommending a multidisciplinary approach.

This included:

  • Ongoing support from a Physiotherapist
  • Ongoing support from both a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist (given the complex nature of the client’s mental health diagnoses)

From an Occupational Therapy perspective, recommendations included:

  • Increased hours from a support worker to assist with housework and the Activities of Daily Living
  • A regimented approach to medication, including a Webster pack, to assist with remembering daily medications

A report outlining these recommendations was completed and as a result the NDIA approved an additional allocation of funding for the client.

This has had a significant positive impact.

The client’s regular review was due to take place over a long time period, and instead these changes were brought forward several months.

For someone living with mental health challenges, it’s important they receive supports in a timely manner.

Ongoing Care

Following the Plan Review, the client’s primary focus has been on mental health care from the Psychologist and Psychiatrist. In addition, our team have continued to provide support through Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy.

Her care has included Sensory Profiling, which helps clients to understand, recognise and manage sensory and cognitive overload. This profiling involves a questionnaire which identifies particular areas that need to be worked on in order to support the client to manage day to day life independently.

Reflections from Total Health Physio

Having a positive and trusting relationship with an Occupational Therapist is very important. This is true in every case, but especially when clients are dealing with mental health challenges or trauma.

The client has a strong positive connection with our clinicians, which has made a big difference through these processes. Our clinicians are honest, direct and genuinely caring, and that has helped in building the fantastic relationship they have with this client.

For our team at Total Health Physio, a case such as this makes it clear that a lot of people who are living with mental health issues can be supported.

A lot can be done for them, and services such as Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy are an important part of that support.