Lab 2: Cognitive-Behavioural Job Demands Analysis

During this lab we discussed how there is an increasing prevalence of poor mental health and mental illness in the work place. I think North America particularly has high standards for “work” and what it means to be “successful”. The demands for efficiency at work can put pressure on an individual and thus impact their work-life balance.  This can lead to “workaholism” which is “…defined as an excessive and uncontrollable need to work that permanently disturbs health, happiness, and relationships” (Matsuka, 2010). A study indicated that Canadians from 19-64 stated that they were workaholics, expressed a dissatisfaction with their work-life balance and wished that they could spend more time with their families (Matsuka, 2010). Understanding this study, we can see that the Canadian/ North American lifestyle can place unnecessarily extreme pressure on individuals to excel in the work place and can impact wellbeing as a result. Occupational therapists especially need to understand the dynamics of the work place and be conscious of the psychological, cognitive, behavioural and emotional demands that are involved with different occupations- this is because OTs will be rehabilitating client’s with various disabilities and goal’s could include a “return to work” plan with a client. Success in “returning to work” means understanding the demands of work and how this individual may be able to cope with the stresses of the job.  In class we discussed that standardized testing for understanding the demand of work needs to to be researched and developed further. We practiced a “job demand analysis” with our classmates. Components related to psycho-emotional determinants of this assessment tool is shown below.


(Krupa, 2013)

As future health care professionals we should be aware of the dynamics of the workplace  and how demands of work can play a big role in the health of individuals. In addition, the stresses of work or even workaholism can  evoke various emotions or behaviours and ultimately impact function in many areas of someone’s life.


Krupa, T. (2013, March). Introduction to psychoemotional demands. OT 845 psychoemotional
determinants of occupation. Lecture conducted from Queen’s University,
Kingston, ON.

Matsuka, K. M. (2010). Workaholism, life balance and well-being: A comparative analysis.
Journal of Occupational Science, 17, 104-111.

Elyn Saks: A Tale of Mental Illness from the Inside


Elyn Saks provides a personal account of her battle with schizophrenia. She describes in detail when she first started acting erratically and the types of incoherent phrases that she would speak when having an episode.
What particularly interests me is her experiences with restraints and how every mental health patient she spoke with despises them- They are meant to make the patients feel “safe” and be “safe” but this is having a complete opposite effect. She even states that many patients are physically harmed or strangled under restraints. Through this technique, mental health patients are stripped from their own sense of safety and freedom and are imprisoned not only mentally but physically. She makes us understand that people with mental illness are often misunderstood and that we should be more understanding of the conditions they are facing on a day to day basis.

Sherwin Nuland: How Electroshock Therapy Changed Me


Sherwin Nuland, a surgeon discusses his battle with depression. He describes in detail how debilitating the symptoms were for him and that other doctors almost gave up on him. They thought of doing a frontal lobe lobotomy to ‘cure’ him when a younger doctor indicated that if they were to proceed with this, he will never have the chance of being a surgeon again and he will not love his family and children the same way. He fought for him to have ECT, which saved his life. He was able to have hints of motivation after sessions of ECT and his internal locus of control changed; he now understood that he has the ability to change and control his mental disability. He even initiated using a ‘trigger’ word to snap him back to reality whenever he had a negative thought. This TED talks was very eye opening to the positive effects of ETC treatment.

Media and Stigma

Infotainment is a term used to describe information-based media content or programming that also includes entertainment content in an effort to enhance popularity with audiences and consumers. The underlying issue with this is that media often spends days reporting on spectacular news, trying to shock audiences and keep their undivided attention. When disastrous events such as mass shootings occur, the news spends a lot of time trying to speculate possible reasons that an individual would do such a terrible thing. The unfortunate aspect of this misinformation is that the news will often peg the criminal with having a “mental disability”. Audiences begin to associate “mental disability” with “mass shootings” or “disastrous events” and stigmas can be created. For instance, the LA times wrote an article on December 16- only two days after the actual shooting, speculating that Adam Lanza, the shooter of the Sandy Hook elementary school in New Town, Connecticut possibly has “Autism”.


This sends a very problematic message to viewers as it subliminally states “he was crazy therefore he must have some sort of mental disorder like autism”. Not only is this information merely a hypothesis for why the events occurred, but it can make people fearful of all individuals with autism.


I have worked for years with youth with Autism, and I have never experienced any violent episodes with them; they are sweet, nurturing and probably the kindest individuals I have ever encountered. Even if Adam Lanza was autistic, it is unfortunate that the media will spend such a drastic amount of time publicizing the negativity of such mental disabilities. Multiple studies indicate that, “…frequency and content of media depictions support clinical observations that mental illness is frequently depicted in the mass media, particularly the entertainment media, and that these depictions tend to be inaccurate and unfavourable” (Wahl, 1992).

However, it is unfair and unrealistic of me to say that all media shows a negative connotation of mental illness.  Media, in fact, can also promote understanding and education- although they may not get as many ‘hits’ as a spectacular headline -like the one above- it is essential that they are still being written by journalists. For instance, two months after the shootings, an article by the Atlantic Wire indicates that researchers have found no connection between Adam Lanza’s diagnosis of Aspergers and violence.

As members of public society we must be critical when we read the news or watch television or movies and re-think our stereotypes and stigmas that are created from these sources. Public awareness and self-education is important in beating the stigmas against mental health.

Wahl, O. F. (1992). Mass media images of mental illness: A review of the literature. Journal of Community Psychology, 20(10), 343-352. Retrieved from<343::AID-JCOP2290200408>3.0.CO;2-2/abstract


In response to the emphasis on focusing on gun control policies, a mother with a child with a mental disability eloquently responds to the Sandy Hook shooting, proposing that the government spend more time and money treating mental health conditions versus working solely on gun policies.

“I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.”


Lab Reflection:

This week in lab we discussed stigma. Especially, “in the case of mental illness, stigma includes perceptions that the person with the illness may in some way be responsible for the illness or that the family is to blame” (Smart, 2001). Stigma can cause the individual suffering from mental illness to start believing that the myths about their illness is true and that they are to blame. For instance, a person suffering from depression can start to believe that it is in fact their fault they are feeling the way they do because everyone else tells them so. This is a vicious cycle of negative thinking that can perpetuate the symptoms of depression. Because mental illness is not as tangible and can be quite hard to comprehend, people tend to dismiss it. This becomes a problem when even healthcare professionals dismiss alarming symptoms of mental illness. To not validate abnormal feelings and emotions could be ultimately detrimental to a patients wellbeing. Furthermore, if  health care workers continue to dismiss the importance of mental health, our future clients will begin to think that their mental health symptoms are not worthy and as a result they may not seek help from family, friends or professionals.
In hospitals and medical centers, physical health tends to outweigh mental health. Looking to the future, we must start to look out for our client’s mental wellbeing in addition to their physical well being on the same level of importance. We will have to strategically and thoughtfully decide whether or not the client’s feelings are on a regular spectrum of human emotions or whether their mental wellbeing is negatively affecting function.
In lab we were asked to make glasses out of materials provided in class. The instructor would then call out a name at random and we would have to stand up with our newly made glasses and answer a random question. This exercise was meant to make us feel vulnerable and a little bit anxious as we would be uncertain about when our name would be called and what answer we would give. The glasses were meant to be a way to make us feel more self-conscious and silly.   Students would feel more nervous because all eyes would be on them.
I enjoy this activity as it provides us with first hand emotions and experience one with mental illness might feel on a day to day basis. For me personally, I felt a little bit anxious and wanted to get it over with as fast as I could as I do not usually enjoy being in the spotlight.
This was an effective tool to make each student feel emotions that someone with mental health disorders could experience; we experienced these emotions for 30 seconds and they may experience these feelings 24/7. People often have difficulties understanding mental health because it is not tangible. We can’t visualize mental health like we can visualize a broken arm. To put us in their shoes, even if its for a couple seconds, is the best tool for learning.


Smart, J. (2001). Disability and the Individual. Austin, TX: ProEd.


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The Canadian Mental health Association has a section on their website that discusses stigma and mental health. They provide extensive information regarding stigma in the Canadian community and how it affects individuals with mental health.

Quotes from the CMHA document on stigma.

Quotes from the CMHA document on stigma.

“In 2001, the World Health Organization declared stigma to be the “single most important barrier to overcome in the community”

They indicate that public education is the first tool to fight stigma. They specifically call to target a specific audience rather than the population at large and involve people with mental illness and their families in all aspects of rehabilitation.

Click here to access the webpage:

Canadian Mental Health Association. (n.d.). Stigma and mental illness . Retrieved from