COT SS - Mental Health

We advocate a holistic approach towards clients with mental health problems

Mental Health
COT Specialist Section - Mental Health has a well-established network of members who support each other’s professional development, and work cooperatively to shape and influence mental health and well-being national policy.

Find out more about becoming a member and the membership benefits involved.

March 2015: COT Specialist Section - Mental Health Annual Conference

Date: 19th and 20th March 2015
Location: Liverpool

November and December 2014

The run up to Xmas has seen COT involvement in the Health Education England Mental Health Advisory Board about workforce issues and future commissioning of student places in England. COT has also been supporting Public Health England’s AHP project groups about emotional wellbeing and promoting the Make Every Contact Count approach, where occupational therapists use appropriate opportunities to ask questions about clients’ smoking, diet, exercise and alcohol intake and then refer onto further services. This is being encouraged to improve the physical health of those with serious mental illness. COT has taken part in the Department of Health culture change workshops about “Positive and Proactive Care- reducing the need for restrictive interventions” which covers all adult health and social care services. These workshops focused on how to change the habits and routines of workplaces to reduce the use of restraint.
More information on the website.
COT has supported a series of events including the England COT Specialist Section-Mental Health event on 24th September in Birmingham, the Scotland COTSS- Mental Health meeting on 8th October and the Northern Ireland COTSS Mental Health event on 6th November (see write up in December OTN page 47). All events have had excellent feedback and increased COTSS-MH numbers. Other events that have had good input and participation from mental health occupational therapists are the “Sustainable Occupational Therapy in Practice” event on the 21st November and the "Diverse and emerging Occupational Therapy roles" event on the 15th December. Happy Xmas all! 

September and October 2014

Autumn has seen the release of the Recovering Ordinary Lives review which was published in September's OT News, on email networks and on the COT website.


There are five themes for the COT and COT Specialist Section-Mental Health work plan and we are particularly looking for examples from OTs who are having success in these areas that we can share:

    • Improving the evidence base;
    • Marketing and promotion of occupational therapy;
    • Embracing technology and informatics;
    • Community development and social determinants of health;
    • New forms of employment for occupational therapists.


July and August 2014

These are traditionally quieter months in the OT calendar as people have their summer holidays. However, COT remained busy contributing to a series of a meetings with Public Health England to discuss the OT contribution to promoting public health in areas such mental and emotional wellbeing. Discussions included the need to tackle the physical health of those with severe mental illness, the need to promote the five ways to wellbeing ( and how to use NICE Public Health Guidance 16 about using OT to enhance mental wellbeing in older adults. In addition COT has been finalising the review of Recovering Ordinary Lives which will be published in September’s OTN including the COT work plan.


May and June 2014

COT attended Naidex in Birmingham and promoted how OTs can meet the mental health needs of those with long term conditions which was appreciated by the large numbers of OTs who attended. COT also hosted an event for OTs by the Department of Health about personal health budgets (PHBs) which included some interesting examples of how to use PHBs in mental health to enhance occupational participation. COT met with both the Northern Ireland Mental Health Managers and the Scottish Mental Health Managers in May and visited Scottish Parliament to listen to a debate. COT Conference in Brighton included a COT led poster discussion about the process for developing practice guidelines based on the success of “OTs use of occupation forced practice in secure hospitals”. COT delivered the first Beginners Guide to Mental Health course for OTs and we are hoping to roll these out to other areas of practice. COT was interviewed on Resonance FM about the OT role in job retention which included a mental health example. Finally, COT met with the English Minister responsible for AHPs, Dan Poulter to discuss the AHP contribution to mental health. He is convinced of the value that OTs offer but has requested more case examples that he can use in influencing.
For more information contact


March and April 2014

The Easter period has seen a raft of conferences and events which are a great opportunity to spread the importance of mental health OT. The Health and Wellbeing at Work conference saw lots of interest from HR managers and small companies who want to employ private OTs to do bespoke pieces of work for the mental health needs of employees in their services. At Naidex, traditionally a disability equipment show, COT highlighted the work OTs can do to meet the mental health needs of those with long term conditions which was well received. COT has also been delivering workshops about developing a business mindset in OT practice and how to write business plans, all trying to gear up OTs for the widening employment market.


COT met with the National Executive Committee in March where there was discussion about the possibility of a COT Specialist Section Conference in England later this year and also visited Aintree Bariatric services which employ mental health OTs to address occupational and psychological issues associated with obesity. The OTs will be presenting their work at COT Conference on the 5th June. COT also attended the first Health Education England Mental Health meeting to debate national workforce questions and a meeting with the Royal College of Psychiatrists about developing values based CAMHs services. Finally, work priorities from the Recovering Ordinary Lives review are being identified and once agreed with COT Specialist Section -Mental Health will be released for action.
For more information please contact

January and February 2014

The New Year saw several consultations that COT responded to with support from members. These included a Northern Ireland consultation about changing the provision of addiction services which will include the closure of some units and extended provision at others. The Royal College of Nursing also had a consultation about the use of restrictive practices which includes those used with people with mental health problems and dementia. Both COT responses highlighted the OT role and the importance of meaningful activity and occupation.
COT took to the social media channels for the first ever Time to Talk Day on 6th February which is part of the anti-discrimination campaign by Time to Change. A blog was also released about the need to talk about addiction problems and the vital OT role in this area. COT have also been filmed by OT lecturers to produce a podcast for students about the evidence base in mental health. COT took part in the latest Care Quality Commission mental health expert reference group to discuss how the inspection visits can best address the needs of those with protected characteristics under the equalities legislation. COT also visited an enthusiastic group of OTs from Care UK to learn more about this expanding organization in mental health provision. Finally the Recovering Ordinary Lives review has taken comments from about 150 OTs across the UK and the information is now being discussed with COT and COT Specialist Section Mental Health to agree next steps forward so watch this space!
For more info please contact


Mental Health Clinical Forums

Clinical Forums of COT Specialist Section - Mental Health facilitate debate, networking, innovation and news in a specific domain of practice. Clinical Forums have annual national study days that influence practice and support the Specialist Section. These study days also support CPD activity and the development of OT in mental health. Outcomes of the study day form part of the Specialist Section annual report.
Find out more about the Special interest Group for Eating Disorders and the Forensic Forum, which is concerned with those who have a history or risk of offending.

Regional subgroups

We currently have an active Regional Subgroup for Scotland, with groups for England, Northern Ireland and Wales in development.

Tips for students:

Find the: 10 Top tips for students who are about to undertake a practice placement with people with mental health problems



Recovering Ordinary Lives: COT wants your views about Impact, Progress and Next steps

Fri, 09/08/2013 - 14:18
Due to feedback from members, COT would like to produce an Interim Report about member’s views of the impact, progress and next steps for Recovering Ordinary Lives; the strategy for occupational therapy in mental health services 2007-2017. To collect views we are reconvening the steering group for a meeting in September, will hold four free networks events, one in each of the four countries for BAOT members to attend and will use email networks including those of the Specialist Sections.... Read more

OT AMHPs face ‘catalogue of prejudice and misunderstanding’, says COT

Tue, 30/04/2013 - 11:02
Occupational therapists who wish to be approved mental... Read more

New mental health SPEaR topic page

Fri, 12/04/2013 - 14:10
January and February 2013 has seen the release of a new... Read more

Contribute to our HCPC consultation response on AMHP programmes in England

Thu, 24/01/2013 - 15:25
The HCPC has recently taken over the statutory... Read more

New COT guideline on the use of occupation in secure settings published

Tue, 27/11/2012 - 15:19
New guidelines published today by the College of... Read more
  • Thursday 19th March 2015 - Friday 20th March 2015