York St John University
The Bridge
28 August 2009
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This e-bulletin is our main method for communicating with people interested in the work of the Centre so we hope you find it interesting and informative, please feel free to send any feedback or comments about the work of the Centre to

E: RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk 

hinking of doing a PhD?

If you are thinking about doing a PhD related to occupation and mental health please email RCOMH and we may be able to put you in touch with someone who can help.

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Bridging the gap between research and practice
Welcome to the latest edition of the Research Centre for Occupation & Mental Health’s e-bulletin, The Bridge.  Despite the variable weather in the UK this summer we are on a high. We are excited that our first major funded study in the ‘Occupation and working with people with psychosis living in the community’ research programme is about to be reported on. The final report will be sent to the College of Occupational Therapists, who funded the project, early next month. So hopefully we will be able to share some of the findings with you soon. We have other reasons to be excited as well…
Congratulations to Dr Sarah Cook, one of RCOMH's steering group members, because she has recently been recommended for a Readership in Occupational Therapy at Sheffield Hallam University. The post comes into effect on 1st September 2009.  This is the first Readership position in the newly created Department of Allied Health Professions at Sheffield Hallam University, and provides an excellent opportunity for close collaboration between the occupational therapy team and the Research Centre in respect of research initiatives. It also shows that we are building research capacity in the field of occupation and mental health which bodes well for our ability to conduct world class research to be able to influence best practice. Well done Sarah, we are delighted for you and your success.

Sarah Cook
Reader in Occupational Therapy
Sheffield Hallam University

RCOMH networks: What are they? How will they work?
You may have recently received an email from RCOMH about which network you would like to be signed up to. You may be wondering what this is all about, particularly how the networks will function. The reason we have done this is because over 300 people have signed up to The Bridge and we want to be able to engage you in RCOMH's work in more meaningful ways.

At this stage we are just trying to get a sense of who would be interested in being associated with a particular network. Initially we will use the networks as a means of communicating specific information to groups. We hope in the long term that they will evolve into more active networks linked to specific research programmes where people in the networks can get involved in research associated with their area of interest, if they would like to. The networks are likely to develop in different ways that are relevant to the specific research programme they are associated with but may involve conferences, discussion forums or training days. If you have any views about how you would like to see the networks develop please contact RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk
Assistance dogs not pets should have been the focus of the research
In a recent edition of The Bridge Spotlight on Research focussed on a paper about caring for pets as a meaningful community occupation. We have had a response from Mary Nettle, a Mental Health User Consultant, she suggests

‘It was a shame that the research discussed in The Bridge had not looked at the issue of assistance dogs for mental health service users. This would be a better role for OT's than just recommending pet ownership. I know service users with very small assistance dogs who would not be able to get out of the house and attend meetings without their help.’

If you would like to refer back to the paper we featured the full reference is:

Zimolag, U., & Krupa, T. (2009). Pet ownership as a meaningful community occupation for people with serious mental illness. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63, 126–137.

Spotlight on research

Theory and research are closely aligned because they are interlinked activities. Research is used in different ways to test or generate theory and theory shapes research. Theory is important because it helps us to understand what is going on. However if our theory is flawed our research will be flawed. Two articles by Karen Whalley Hammell have been published in the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy this year that challenges some of the theory generated by occupational therapists about occupation. In the first paper Whalley Hammell questions occupational therapists core beliefs and assumptions, namely that occupations can be categorised as self-care, productivity (work) or leisure (play), and suggests the theory about occupation that has been developed to date is culturally specific, contestable and lacking in supportive evidence. In the second paper she unpacks further her argument that the categories of self-care, productivity (work) or leisure (play) are too simplistic; reflecting a culturally specific, class-bound, and ableist perspective, and explores a possible direction for future research. If she is right, and it is up to you to read her work and to decide for yourself if she is, these ideas will have profound implications not only for practice but for the way research about occupation is conducted. I urge you to have some fun and read these two extremely intellectually stimulating papers. Please feel free to send any reflections on them that are relevant to the work of RCOMH to RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk.

If you would like to read these papers the full references are:

Whalley Hammell K (2009) Sacred texts: A sceptical exploration of the assumptions underpinnings theories of occupation Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy 76 (1) 6-13

Whalley Hammell K (2009) Self-care, productivity, and leisure, or dimensions of occupational experience? Rethinking occupational “categories” Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy 76 (2) 107-114

Katrina Bannigan
Director of RCOMH

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