Occupational Therapy Student Blog Post

January 19, 2021

Vassiliki Zapsas, NYU Department of Occupational Therapy

This pandemic has impacted all of our lives, whether it be directly, economically, mentally, or occupationally. Now, occupationally, does not necessarily mean occupation as in your job, even though it can very well be that too, it is your engagement in daily occupations.

In occupational therapy, we define occupations as everyday activities that people do to bring meaning and purpose to life and can include things we need to do, want to do, and are expected to do. A lack of participation in such occupations of necessity, obligation, and choice due to factors outside of their control, such as a global pandemic, is defined as being in a state of occupational deprivation (Whiteford, 2010, p. 201).

All our daily occupations, such as going to work and running errands, or participating in meaningful activities like going to brunch with friends, disappeared  from our lives in just a matter of days. Consequently, we have all fallen victim to some form of occupational deprivation, and such a state can ultimately result in having a lack of meaning or purpose in your life and can create or prolong mental and physical illnesses (Abson, 2019).

Occupational deprivation is not a foreign concept to many individuals, especially people with disabilities, refugees, people affected by natural disasters, and individuals of low-income communities. Occupational therapists work to eliminate occupational deprivation. Occupational Therapists help during global crises; this can be seen by OTs assisting and rehabilitating injured soldiers during World War I (Garcia, 2018).

OTs help people re-engage in meaningful occupations to eliminate the sense of occupational deprivation and effectively change their lives for the better.

Afya helps individuals all over the world, not only by supplying them with necessary medical supplies but also with occupational deprivation, offering individuals opportunities to participate in acts of altruism that they otherwise would not be able to. We welcome people with disabilities and of difficult backgrounds to work alongside occupational therapy interns, and participate in the occupations that are necessary to run Afya – sorting, counting, packing, and delivering medical supplies – which ultimately helps the people that need them most.

Occupational deprivation has now become a part of our new reality. It is essential for occupational therapists and individuals alike to help by adapting and adjusting our reality, giving back and participating in altruistic occupations, and changing the way we do things for the greater good of society.


Abson, D. (2019). Occupational Deprivation. The Occupational Therapy Hub. https://www.theothub.com/post/occupational-deprivation

Garcia, M. P. (2018). Occupational Therapy: A Brief History. Collection Spotlight from the National Rehabilitation Information Center. https://naricspotlight.wordpress.com/2018/11/09/occupational-therapy-a-brief-history/ 

Whiteford, G. (2010). When people cannot participate: occupational deprivation. In C.H. Christiansen & E.A. Townsend (Eds.) Introduction to occupation: the art and science of living Second Edition. (pp.303-328) Upper Saddle Creek, NJ: Prentice Hall.