Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Stephanie de Sam Lazaro


Doctor of Occupational Therapy


The rate of mental health diagnoses in the veteran population in the United States (US) has increased in recent years, with approximately 1 in 3 veterans diagnosed with a mental health condition and experiencing unmet occupational needs as a result (Derefinko et al., 2018; Hunt et al., 2019; Inoue et al., 2023; Plach & Sells, 2013; Trivedi et al., 2015). The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes this as a critical issue and has identified mental health occupational therapy (MH OT) as a means of improving the overall wellness of veterans. This quality improvement project took place at the St. Cloud VA outpatient MH OT program with the aim of educating practitioners on current best practices for clinical utilization of evidence-based outcome assessment tools for veterans with mental health conditions. The project included an evidence-based review process, development of an educational resource, a formal presentation to staff, an evaluation process, and provision of final recommendations to the site. Evaluation data was compiled through a survey, with responses indicating that the educational resource is highly valuable and very likely to be used by the site. The educational resource depicts the site’s current practices as effective, as well as provides longitudinal opportunities for additional outcome data collection and analysis to improve the St. Cloud VA outpatient MH OT program, ultimately promoting the highest occupational potential of veterans. The educational resource has been disseminated across the national VA system and can be further distributed through various continuing education realms to support best practice on a larger scale and ultimately promote the health and wellness of as many veterans as possible.