The Challenge of Working in Mental Health Settings: Perceptions of Newly Graduated Occupational Therapists

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Working in mental health settings is a growing area of practice for occupational therapists. The work nowadays is mostly within the community, where occupational therapists may be found in a wide variety of teams. This study investigated the specific challenges that new graduate occupational therapists are faced with when commencing work in a mental health setting.

One-to-one semi-structured interviews were carried out with 15 newly graduated occupational therapists, working in mental health settings in south-east Queensland. The interview transcripts were analysed using a consensual qualitative research approach.

Three domains were identified from the transcripts. The first related to the ideas of the participants about the skills and knowledge needed by new graduates commencing mental health practice; the second related to the extent to which undergraduate studies had prepared them for practice; and the third related to the means by which they acquired capacity to practise and overcame deficits in skills and knowledge. The core ideas and themes associated with these domains are examined and the implications of the findings for education and training and for orientation to practice are discussed.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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