Occupational Therapy’s Role in Mental Health Promotion, Prevention, & Intervention With Children & Youth
This information was prepared by AOTA’sSchool Mental Health Work Group (2012).
OccupatiOnal therapy practitiOners’
(OTs’) role in the school setting is topromote student academic achievement and social participation. They support students’occupational perormance in the ollowing areas: education, play, leisure, social participation,activities o daily living (e.g., eating, dressing, hygiene), sleep and rest, and work. Task analy-sis is used to identiy actors (e.g., sensory, motor, social–emotional, cognitive) that may limitsuccessul participation. Practitioners promote a student’s strengths and abilities throughoutall school routines and environments, including recess and playground time.
active, free play with peers.
Recess is an important part o each school day and an opportune time or OTs to implementinnovative programs to address a variety o issues related to school perormance. Althoughmany areas o unction can be addressed during recess, play and social participation are themost natural areas or OTs to target. Recess is an important time or students to developimportant perormance skills in the areas o emotional regulation and communication andsocial skills.
School districts are cutting the amount o time devoted to recess in order toincrease the amount o instruction time. A study by the Center on Education Policy oundthat 20% o districts
recently reduced recess by 50 minutes per week
in order to dedicatemore time to academics (Ramstetter, Murray, & Garner, 2010).
Increased opportunity or engagement in social participation, improved physical andemotional health, development o leisure and play to counteract the imbalance betweensedentary and physical activity, and preparation o the body and mind or attentiveness andengagement in the classroom.
Recess is a time to “recharge [students’] bodies and minds” (Robert Wood Johnson Foun-dation, 2010, p. 4). Play in any orm is a stress reliever rom the world o more and moreacademic instruction and benchmark testing (Miller & Almon, 2009).
Better classroom behaviors are ound in classrooms receiving at least one 15-minute recessbreak each day (Barros, Silver, & Stein, 2009).
Attention to classroom tasks is improved ater recess time (Holmes, Pellegrini, & Schmidt,2006).
The Centers or Disease Control and Prevention (2000) recommend that elementary schoolchildren participate in recess at regularly scheduled periods during the school day. Recessshould be supervised by trained adults who can encourage physical activity, enorce rules, and prevent bullying. Appealing equipment andmaterials should be provided.
The National Association or Sport and Physical Education (NASPE; 2004) recommends elementary school children have unstructured play time in order to increase physical activity and encourage enjoyment o movement. Recess should not replace physical education and shouldnot be withheld as punishment. NASPE also suggests recess be supervised by qualied adults to acilitate confict resolution and enorcesaety rules.
The National Association o Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments (2002) o Education recognizes recess as an “essential com-ponent o education” and recognizes the restorative eect o recess or students with attention disorders (Ramstetter et al., 2010).
Why shOuld Ots care aBOutrecess?
o children meet doctor’srecommendations or daily physicalactivity.
Recess represents about hal theavailable time or children to dedicateto physical activity.
Recess may be removed becauseo behavior problems. OTs can helpprevent this by helping recess stalearn how to structure recess topromote positive behavior andreduce problem behaviors.
Funding or structured play oten goesto ater-school programs and physicaleducation. Recess is an untappedresource and OTs have both theskills to develop new programs andthe responsibility to advocate or theimportance o play (Robert WoodJohnson Foundation, 2007).
t cg o Kgr:
limited equipment or supplies;unsae conditions; disorganization;discipline problems; bullying; lack oawareness o play benefts.
showed that urbanschools and schools with 75% ostudents receiving ree lunch haveLESS recess time than rural & subur-ban schools.
(Ramstetter et al., 2010)