Mental health: occupational therapists receive younger and heavier cases

After two years of the pandemic, occupational therapists are seeing patients with mental health problems at younger and younger ages.

The Neuractiv clinic in Trois-Rivières, where eight occupational therapy specialists work, receives three times more requests than a few months ago.

Alexe Desaulniers, occupational therapist in this clinic, notes that some have symptoms of post-traumatic shock for which the virtues of occupational therapy are underestimated. “I have in-home follow-ups with people who are having trouble getting groceries. For them, grocery shopping becomes the challenge of the week. They will prepare three days in advance.

Young people are no exception either: school at home and the cessation of sports have greatly weakened them. “The clientele is getting younger and younger. It is not uncommon to see adolescents aged 12 to 15 with significant and increasingly serious problems. Anxiety disorders and depressive symptoms in particular.

Among seniors, in addition to psychological distress, many have lost muscle mass due to confinement. In seniors’ residences, the obligation to stay in their room deprived them of walking, whether outside or simply to get to the living room and the dining room. “The deconditioning sets in and we have to use the walker,” lamented Mme Desaulniers. Those who were already using the walker swapped it for the wheelchair, for lack of muscle mass. “And that is important because we are talking about the autonomy of the person,” underlined the professional.

Whether in mental or physical health, Mme Desaulniers estimates that it will take years to fully recover from the pandemic.

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