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Incorporating Mental Health into Every Practice – A Virtual Cafe

October 25 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


October 25, 2023
6-7:30 PM

What is the Virtual Café?

A series of conversations with occupational therapists (OT) to support all OTs to work to their full scope of practice. Facilitators will present examples and case studies with the recognition that all clients’ goals are multifaceted and require a holistic approach. Bring a beverage to enjoy!

**All registration fees will be donated to: CASA Mental Health
CASA Mental Health is an established non-profit organization delivering holistic, culturally safe wrap-around mental health services to Albertans aged three to 18 and their families. CASA provides mental health service to the missing middle – mental health treatment for diagnosed children and youth, in between prevention and promotion in primary and community care, and acute treatment in hospital.

October 2023 Presenter – Susanne Williams

Introduction (5 minutes)
In this collaborative session, Susanne Williams will lead a discussion about how to bring a more holistic approach and a mental health lens to school-based care. Participation by all is highly encouraged, and we will use breakout rooms for smaller group discussions.

Presentation (20-30 minutes)
Susanne will share knowledge and insights from her 30+ year OT career. She will describe in detail how she supports students and all of her clients with their mental health in her everyday OT practice, and also how she encourages parents, teachers and EAs to look at the “whole child.” When Susanne graduated with her BScOT from Queen’s University in 1990, a holistic approach was the norm in OT. This was also paired with considerable practical experiences in both psychiatry and physical medicine.

Has this changed over the years, with the shift to Master’s OT programming? And with government funding cutbacks to health care and education supports? OTs appear to be increasingly siloed into more narrow areas of practice. It is time for OTs to help break mental health barriers and stigma and utilize a holistic approach no matter the role.

Even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Susanne was observing and supporting higher rates of anxiety and other mental health needs in her pediatric practice than in previous years. Building on her knowledge of trauma informed practice had been one of Susanne’s ACOT goals for years! Tune in to learn what professional development Susanne has completed since that time, and how it has enriched her practice. Susanne will also share some practical take home resources and quick tips for building mental health.

Susanne will present a case study for breakout room discussion, highlighting improved client success after mental health supports and strategies were implemented. Not an easy task at times when OTs are often asked to focus on printing and academic skills in schools. Let’s talk about the challenges and barriers that exist.

As all school-based OTs know, caseloads are overwhelmingly huge, and we are stretched more thinly than ever before. We often work in isolation rather than directly with teams. School staff are struggling with high burnout rates, and student needs are increasingly complex. I would imagine that many of you spoke with Heather Ashkin regarding the SAOT school-based OT project. If time allows, let’s discuss her findings and why OTs need to advocate for both our profession and our clients in schools, now more than ever!

Breakout groups for discussion (30 minutes)

Large group wrap up (10 minutes)
What is one actionable step you can take after attending this PD?


October 25
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Online Event


Society of Alberta Occupational Therapists
(855) MY1-SAOT
View Organizer Website


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