Joe’s Story

Meet Joe: Facing Mental Health Challenges and Barriers to Employment

Background: Joe is a professional in his 40’s who was recently hospitalized to stabilize his mental health. He wants to find a job and yet can’t seem to organize himself or get a consistent routine. He is on short-term income support. He has trouble making decisions, managing his time, and resisting impulses to distract himself. He has cognitive restrictions created by a head injury. His family and relationship patterns are problematic. All this is discouraging and creates a vulnerability to becoming easily overwhelmed and inactive. He wants to start enjoying life, learn more skills for coping with challenges, improve relationships and prepare to return to work.

Difficulty: Joe is currently on a six-month waiting list for therapy but needs help now. Joe is motivated to make changes but is easily overwhelmed by the extent of his problems. He has trouble identifying and accessing his strengths. Joe identifies as a worker and so wants to get back to working ASAP. However, he has been making impulsive unhelpful decisions.

Referral: With his discharge from hospital, Joe was encouraged to find a  community OT. As his finances were limited, he was hesitant to pay out of his pocket for OT. However, he located an OT, using the SAOT Search for an OT search feature, and decided to try a few sessions to create momentum and direction.

How Occupational Therapy assisted Joe:
● Joe was given a lifestyle assessment to identify strengths and obstacles as to how he was functioning in his life, for example his self-care, his routines, his relationships and his independence.
● He was offered ways of identifying the problems and breaking them down into steps.
● Together Joe and OT explored alternate solutions to everyday problems and then
practiced these new behaviors and strategies in sessions and between sessions.
● Joe was assured that it would take time for him to integrate what he discovered and apply the learning to other situations.

Outcome for Joe:
● He participated in short-term OT treatment and it helped increase his awareness of the value of engaging in meaningful activity for his mood and health.
● He attended 10 sessions as he found the method of therapy helpful i.e., to practice skills, do activities, make practical changes to his lifestyle, and develop new strategies.
● Joe felt more prepared for long term therapy, had developed more insight into his capabilities, and demonstrated improved decision-making skills.
● He began to use physical and creative activities to regulate and express emotions.
● Joe developed a routine that was more social and enjoyable.
● Joe identified markers that would indicate when he would be ready to return to work.
● He learned more about how he learned best.
● A few months later he was back in the workforce.

- Kevyn T.

Learn how OTs helped her brother after a spinal cord injury.

-Gerard C.

With deep gratitude to Gerard Curley who shared these thoughts about OT before his passing on December 24, 2020.

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Society of Alberta Occupational Therapists