Mind in West Essex (MIWE) is a third sector, primary mental health care organisation, that
support people with mental health (MH) issues through various services (MIWE 2021a).
Currently, access to occupational therapy in West Essex is limited to secondary care,
contributing to a disconnection between stepped services. Increased integration of primary
and secondary health care, early intervention, and overall improved MH services are current
drivers for change in West Essex (Rate and Reay 2019; Kozlowska et al. 2018; Joint
Commissioning Panel for Mental Health [JCPMH] 2012).
Occupational engagement, and subsequently occupational therapy, can support MH;
notably, by enabling social inclusion, preventing illness, and supporting employment (Royal
College of Occupational Therapists [RCOT] 2017; Jacobs and Simon 2015). Therefore, this
project aimed to investigate the potential benefits occupational therapy could bring to MIWE,
using the current evidence base and in co-production with service users.
The project came in two parts, starting with a literature review of 8 texts, investigating the
role and efficacy of occupational therapy in MH settings; the resulting themes included the
uniqueness of the role, the skills occupational therapists exhibit, and the interplay of
occupation, community, and recovery. Secondly, semi-structured interviews with 3 service
users explored how occupation featured in MIWE; how MIWE supports them; and positive
responses to the project. These two sections were then synthesised, producing the
following themes: the potential for community enablement through occupation; possible
employment support; a place for occupation within the service; and occupational therapy
being a suitable fit for MIWE.
The findings are particularly pertinent when considered in line with the National Health
Service (NHS) West Essex Local Delivery Plan for Adult Mental Health Services, regarding
the potential for supporting primary care network expansion; increasing preventative MH
care and early intervention; and building resilient communities (Rate and Reay 2019). To
maintain sustainability, a summarised report for all staff and service users, and a copy of
the full report, are intended for MIWE’s ongoing use. Though additional interviews and
research may be required, overall, this project demonstrates the positive potential for
introducing occupational therapy to MIWE.||en