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Achieving Mental Health

I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression as a child. I cried easily and was severely anxious and overwhelmed by my schoolwork, household chores, and activities of daily living. Just getting out of bed, getting dressed, and making my lunch to go to school were beyond me. When I was a preteen, I was hospitalized after several years of medication and counseling had not been effective. I received occupational therapy services while in the hospital’s inpatient and day programs.

The occupational therapist provided a practical approach to my daily tasks and how best to maximize my ability to participate in the activities I found meaningful. She taught me the skills of task analysis—learning how to break tasks down to prevent anxiety and frustration, whether that task was doing my math homework or setting the table for dinner. The occupational therapist also performed a home and school visit to evaluate how the environment could be modified to best support me—with a plan for what to do when I was experiencing distress during the school day, and with lists or schedules posted at home to minimize anxiety and remind me of the coping skills available to me.

While it’s been a long and challenging journey since then, I credit occupational therapy with starting me on the road to recovery and teaching me the coping skills I use every day. As a college student, I decided to become an occupational therapist myself, so I can help others the way occupational therapy had previously helped me. I will graduate from occupational therapy school in May!

Author's name withheld upon request.