Structure and routine is important for anyone’s psychological wellbeing. Those who experience a loss of activities in their daily life can begin to lose purpose. This can ultimately lead to mental health issues like depression. We see a loss of structure and routine with many types of individuals. For instance, a loss of structure could be seen with individual’s who experience a traumatic physical injury, where their new disability impedes participating in old activities. A physical injury could impact an individual’s endurance or participation at work. A new amputee may have difficulty going back to work as a fitness instructor. By not being able to go back to work due to a physical injury can decrease structure in an individual’s day. An individual who has a newly acquired spinal cord injury may not be able to be a football player again therefore losing structure in his or her structure in daily routine as they are not able to return to football practice as a player. Assuming that these occupations are meaningful to them, losing this daily structure, as well as their passion can be very emotionally debilitating. It is important for OTs to intervene here and make sure that these individual’s can still continue participating in old occupations or adapt to find new occupations that can help them cope with their new injury. Ots can also assist these individual’s in adjusting to their new lifestyle. Pascale Ribreau, a chef from Toronto was able to resume his work as a chef by using a standing wheelchair. By being able to continue his work as a chef, he is able to continue participating in his passionate occupation as a chef and maintain a work routine in his daily life.
” “The standing wheelchair “has been an absolutely amazing tool for me,” Ribreau says. Nevertheless, he finds his nine-hour work day physically demanding – though he adds, “The pain doesn’t matter when I work.” He works fewer hours than before his disability and delegates more than he used to, but he maintains that the quality of his food speaks for itself. “I don’t get a break from my customers because I’m in a wheelchair,” he says. Ribreau’s advice to other people with disabilities who want an unusual career? “Stick with what you love… If you love something and can make a living at it, go for it””” (Pudsey, 2003). This article can be found here.
There can also be a loss of structure and routine with veterans or retirees. These individual’s have changed to a new lifestyle, where work or training no longer naturally structure the day. As a result these individual’s can have their mental wellbeing negatively impacted. OTs can again, intervene here to help with this transition in life events and assist in maintaining activity and structure in these individual’s lives.
Individual’s with Pervasive Personality Disorders or Autism can also experience a loss of structure due to being excluded from activities from their impairments. For instance, in OT 821, my team and I wrote an article in the Kingston Whig, regarding a 21 year old adult with autism who has increased his stimming patterns due to the loss of structure in his life after graduating high school. In this article, we targeting funding in Ontario and how it cuts off financial support for adults with autism, even though their disability does not decrease with age. You can read the article, “Falling through the gaps” here.
As OTs its important for us to look at the daily structure of our client’s when it comes to their mental wellbeing. Being able to engage in activities and have structure in an individual’s day can add purpose, meaning and emotional stability.