Birth of the book, “Occupational therapy in psychiatry and mental health”

The story of the Crouch Bursary Fund was foreshadowed in 1989 with the publication of the 1st edition of the textbook “Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health”, edited by Rosemary Crouch.  Over the years, this book has been the main source of funds for what was initially the Crouch Trust and later the Crouch Bursary Fund.

The book was born of the need for South African occupational therapy students to have relevant reference material for the local mental health context. Rosemary Crouch’s idea of producing a textbook was supported by Professor Marj Concha (head of occupational therapy at the University of the Witwatersrand), Professor Ruth Watson (head of occupational therapy at the University of Cape Town) and Judith Farrell (head of occupational therapy at the University of Pretoria), with Judith Farrell also being the then president of the South African Association of Occupational Therapists (SAAOT). An author group was recruited from amongst South African occupational therapists who were recognized experts in the fields of psychiatry and mental health and from the outset authors and editor agreed that any funds generated by the book would be utilized to fund research in the field.

The 1st edition was an immediate success locally, but due to South Africa being in the heart of the Apartheid era it was not widely sold internationally. Sales covered the costs of publication and a 2nd edition was embarked upon a few years later, with some updating of the content and a publication date of 1992. Fundedon a loan basis by the Life Healthcare Group, the 2nd edition sold thousands of copies and made a remarkable profit despite its very reasonable selling price. After the Life Healthcare Group had been repaid in full it was apparent that the balance of the funds generated needed to be invested and protected, and occupational therapist Vivyan Alers was called on to assist with this. A nonprofit organization called the Crouch Trust was registered with the Department of Social Development, with Rosemary Crouch being chairperson of the board and Vivyan Alers the secretary.  This allowed for bursary funds to be made available to occupational therapy researchers, generating much interest from the profession.

The book’s international debut

After the advent of democracy in South Africa and its re-entry onto the international stage a 3rd edition of the textbook was planned, with Rosemary Crouch and Vivyan Alers as joint editors. An international publisher was secured and the book was published in 1997, achieving successful sales not only locally but also internationally. Once again, all royalties were invested and made available in the form of funding for occupational therapy research in the fields of psychiatry and mental health.


Vivyan Alers (left) and Rosemary Crouch, with the 3rd edition published in 1997

Paradigm-shifting in psychiatry and mental health

In 2003 Jennifer Creek, a well-known British author of textbooks covering different fields within occupational therapy, suggested that a new edition be produced to reflect the introduction of a Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) as well as paradigm shifts in psychiatry and mental health. She facilitated an introduction to Whurr Publishers (later taken over by the well-known Wiley & Sons) and this led to the publication of the 4th edition in 2005. This was directed at a broader, international, professional occupational therapy readership, with major revision and updating having taken place since the 3rd edition.  It features a number of international models of occupational therapy, including the now well-established Vona du Toit Model of Creative Ability from South Africa.  These models support various practical applications of occupational therapy in the fields of psychiatry and mental health.


Vivyan Alers and Rosemary Crouch (editors) at the launch of the 4th edition in 2005

A 5th edition of the textbook followed in 2014, published by Wiley Blackwell (ISBN: 1 86156

 420 1). The tradition of authors and editors donating all royalties has continued and will be carried forward into the 6th edition, which is currently in the planning stages.


Vivyan Alers and Rosemary Crouch (editors) with the 5th edition in 2014


Most of the authors of the 5th edition, at its launch in 2014

The various editions of the textbook have together been an unprecedented success, catering to occupational therapists in training as well as those who are newly qualified. It has been prescribed in all university-based occupational therapy training centres in South Africa, with more than 8,000 copies sold in this country alone. Although the content is proudly presented as being South Africa-based, it is also very applicable to other parts of the world. It reflects the high standard of occupational therapy in the fields of psychiatry and mental health in South Africa, comparable to standards attained in high income countries. Its content is relevant both for hospital-based work and for community-based, grassroots practice. The most recent issue covers cultural issues and the contribution of the occupational therapy auxiliary.

In South Africa, the textbooks (in paperback) are sold through Van Schaiks Bookstore and other medical book outlets.

Stewardship of royalties generated by the books

Over the years a number of eminent occupational therapists served on the board of the Crouch Trust, providing careful stewardship of the royalty funds and awarding research grants to successful applicants.  After the untimely passing of Vivyan Alers in 2018, and due to changes in trust legislation and banking requirements, the Crouch Trust was brought to a close in 2019. In accordance with its constitution, it transferred its assets to a likeminded organization in the form of the Crouch Bursary Fund, a new nonprofit company registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission. Many of the same board members have continued with the Crouch Bursary Fund, providing seamless continuity and allowing it to broaden its objectives in relation to supporting scientific research. Rosemary Crouch accepted the role of honorary life president in 2019, with Lisa Wegner stepping into the role of chairperson.

Editions of “Occupational therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health” to date

1st Edition (1989)        edited by Rosemary B Crouch

                                       (published by the University of the Witwatersrand)

2nd Edition (1992)        edited by Rosemary B Crouch

                                        (published by the Life Healthcare Group, with the same cover as the 1st edition)

3rd Edition (1997)         edited by Rosemary B Crouch and Vivyan Alers

                                        (published by Maskew, Miller & Longman)

4th Edition (2005)        edited by Rosemary B Crouch and Vivyan Alers

                                        (published by Whurr Publishers)

5th Edition (2014)         edited by Rosemary B Crouch and Vivyan Alers

                                        (published by Wiley Blackwell)

Support for an additional textbook, “Occupational Therapy: An African Perspective”

Having noted the success of “Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health”, in 2009 the Occupational Therapy Africa Regional Group (OTARG),a regional group of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, approached the then Crouch Trust. They sought seed funding and practical assistance with publishing their own book, “Occupational Therapy: An African Perspective”. After the concept was finalized at an OTARG congress in Malawi,  Vivyan Alers and Rosemary Crouch were appointed as editors and authors were drawn from Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda. The content combined occupational therapy theory and first-hand experiential knowledge of African contexts, with its down-to-earth subject matter being particularly helpful for occupational therapists new to the shores of Africa, as well as for other professionals interested in what an occupational therapist “actually does”.  Although grounded in Africa, it lent itself to application in other parts of the world with marginalized and impoverished communities. Chapters focused on topics like the vital role of occupational therapy in psychiatry and mental health in Africa, the relationship between culture and occupation, the notion of cultural competence for occupational therapists, multidisciplinary approaches to changing lives, the impact of poverty on occupational therapy service delivery, thinking practice, producing of low cost aids and adapted equipment, addressing the needs of mentally and physically challenged children and those with developmental delay (including early childhood intervention and minimizing the impact of disabilities), forensic occupational therapy focused on women and children, HIV and occupational performance, occupational therapy in palliative care, assisting clients to move from victim to trauma survivor to thriver, development of a community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programme and developing of services in the absence of previous infrastructure.


After its publication in 2010 by Sarah Shorten Publishers the book proved highly successful, with all copies selling out. After the seed money was repaid to the Crouch Trust the remaining profits were disbursed by OTARG in the form of grants for attendees at OTARG congresses. Although not specific to the fields of psychiatry and mental health, the Crouch Trust’s support for this additional book represents an important contribution to developing occupational therapy in the African region.

Professor Rosemary Crouch as honorary life president of the Crouch Bursary Fund

In 2019 Professor Rosemary Crouch accepted the suggestion of the other Board members that she become the honorary life president of the Fund. 

She is not unfamiliar with honorary awards, having been made an Honorary Fellow of the World Federation of Occupational Therapy in 2010. She previously served as vice president of the World Federation as well as its ambassador to Africa (2002) and was the Convenor and honorary treasurer for the Occupational Therapy Africa Regional Group (OTARG). She founded the Psychiatric Occupational Therapists’ Interest Group (POTS) in 1985, has played multiple roles in the South African Association of Occupational Therapists (SAAOT) and its successor the Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa (OTASA), and has made a significant contribution to groups such as the South African Federation for Mental Health and SANCA (the South African National Council for Alcohol and Substance Abuse). 

The Board is rightly proud of Professor Crouch’s  impeccable record of service to the profession of occupational therapy. We are grateful for her visionary contribution to bringing first the Crouch Trust and then the Crouch Bursary Fund into being.