Mental Health Act Will Help Patients ‘Live Life To Its Fullest’
American Occupational Therapy Association will promote HR 3762 with briefing on March 19
BETHESDA, MD — The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) will sponsor a House & Senate Congressional staff briefing in support of the Occupational Therapy Mental Health Act (HR 3762) on Monday, March 19th at 11:00 AM in 121 Cannon House Office Building. The event will examine the important clinical role that the nation’s occupational therapists play in helping consumers manage serious mental illness like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major clinical depression, and PTSD, and achieve optimal functional performance in their everyday lives.
The legislation would add occupational therapists to the current list of “behavioral and mental health professionals” in the National Health Services Corps (NHSC), making occupational therapists eligible to participate in the NHSC Scholarship and Loan Repayment Programs.
“We plan to educate and highlight the important role of occupational therapy in the provision of high quality mental health care,” said Ralph Kohl, Legislative Representative for AOTA. “There is a need for mental health clients to have access to the full spectrum of services which includes occupational therapy.”
The briefing will include:
- Virginia “Ginny” Stoffel, PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA, American Occupational Therapy Association vice president and associate professor in the Department of Occupational Science & Technology at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee;
- Jeffrey S. Janofsky, MD, associate professor, director of the psychiatry and law program, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD;
- Shira Zapinsky, MS in occupational therapy candidate, Towson University Class of 2012, Towson, MD;
- Brooke Muller, MOT, OTR/L, Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis, TN.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) along with co-sponsors U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Corrine Brown (D-FL), introduced the measure in December.
“This bill will open doors to occupational therapy practitioners who want to contribute to the everyday health of people living with psychiatric disabilities who want to participate fully in communities, schools, and workplaces, ‘Living Life to its Fullest,’” Stoffel said. “Often the workplaces where mental health practitioners are employed have salaries lower than those in hospital-based or physical rehabilitation settings. This act, with its loan forgiveness programs, will make it affordable for occupational therapists to commit themselves to this dynamic practice area. Celebrating the contributions that occupational therapy can make in the mental health arena—given that this is our profession's roots—is possible with the passage of this act.”
To track HR 3762 or to learn more, click here.
To schedule an interview with a member of AOTA’s legislative staff or an occupational therapy practitioner who works in the mental health field, call AOTA Media Relations Manager Katie Riley, 301-652-6611, ext. 2963 or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA’s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to www.aota.org.