When COVID-19 hit everywhere, it not only took away our safety but also crippled us. Because of how infectious the disease is, we have had to stay at home. We were not allowed to leave the house to do any non-essential activities. However, this long-term confinement has a massive impact on us.
According to July 2020’s KFF Health Tracking Poll, people’s mental health conditions declined. People have difficulty sleeping and eating. There is an increased intake of alcohol or substance abuse. There is also a report where adults begin to have symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder.
Anything can affect a person’s mental health. There are various such things in the present situation, like the panic COVID-19 brings us and the disruption it causes to our daily lives. We can no longer move as freely as before. Even if it is for our good, this still affects us negatively. It might take its toll on our mental health.
Occupational counseling might be able to help. Read on to learn about what it is and how it can help us get through our present predicament.
What Is Occupational Counseling
Occupational counseling is the only line of work that helps all people of all ages. It aims to treat the social, mental, emotional, and physiological effects of illnesses and injuries on patients through teaching adaptability and learning activities they want and need to do. They believe that these will help with a patient’s motor skills, balance, coordination, and even mental health.
That is done through a process. In the beginning, occupational counselors look at the strength and challenges to know what the client needs. They do that by testing you with certain activities. Following that, they will list exercises, activities, and plans catered to the patient in improving life. In the end, there will be an evaluation to see whether the client and the counselor achieved their goals. If not, they will make changes to their plans.
The activities planned to range from the simplest things, like cleaning a room, to complex ones. For example, someone who has trouble with motor skills might be asked to pick things up with tweezers. It then gradually shifts to jumping jacks or jogging around. Anything that might help improve movement will do.
Other than helping people with their motor skills, occupational counseling is also beneficial to people who are suffering from:
- Sensory integration dysfunction
- Work-related injuries
- Vision or cognitive problems
- Work-related injuries
- Substance abuse
- Eating disorders
- Spinal cord injuries
These are often what occupational counselors treat. However, they also work with people who struggle with mental disorders. Mental disorders can also immobilize a person. For example, the feeling of sadness will overcome a person with depression. They will lose interest in activities and have low energy levels. Those with crippling depression might have difficulty in finding coping mechanisms on their own.
During the pandemic, people seek occupational counselors to help people find their rhythm again and do activities to improve their mental health.
Role Of Occupational Counseling In COVID-19
Occupational counselors are the ones responsible for helping us take care of our mental health. They focus on finding out what a person needs and their relationships with their family and community. They do this to suggest activities to the patient that are important for the family and strengthen their dynamics. These help decrease the feeling of isolation and improve their mental health.
There are activities to be done individually. Counselors teach the patient techniques to be able to cope with the effects of mental illness. For example, a person who struggles with anxiety might be given breathing exercises to calm themselves. Someone with overwhelming thoughts is taught techniques to distract themselves.
Another approach is replacing unhealthy activities with healthy ones. Counselors might advise their patients to sit down and write about anything rather than watch television all day. Instead of being on the phone all day, they could walk around the house to be productive. There are many different and healthier ways to cope. We have to learn about them.
Some people struggle more than others because they are confused about their feelings. Through educational programs and treatment, occupational counselors help patients reflect on what they suffer from. Understanding and accepting their condition will make things easier.
We still cannot go back to our pre-COVID lives. However, there are always alternatives. Sometimes, when our mental health suffers, we stop doing activities that we like and that make us feel good. Occupational counselors might ask patients to go back to these activities. Going back to these activities can improve our mental health.
At the end of the process, occupational counselors evaluate progress. They check if the patient could achieve any of the goals they set at the beginning of the process. Whether or not these goals are met, the counselor will always end on an optimistic note. The most important thing is for the patient to move closer to their desired direction and destination.
Occupational counseling ensures that people who need help will get it. Working on different activities with different objectives is just one of the few steps forward. Counselors will show us how to lead a productive life, one small step after another.