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Forum to examine the vital role of occupational therapists in the delivery of mental health care

More than 250 people are expected to attend Occupational Therapy Australia’s (OTA) Mental Health Forum, to be convened virtually on Monday, 16 November.

Occupational therapists are key providers of mental health care, working as part of multi-disciplinary teams to help people regain the skills and confidence they need to participate in the activities of everyday life.

OTA Chief Executive Officer, Sam Hunter, said “those recovering from mental illness do not achieve that recovery in a counsellor’s room. That may well be the beginning of the process, but recovery is ultimately achieved in the home, the workplace, the school or the shopping centre. That’s where occupational therapy comes in.”

“Occupational therapists working in mental health do so across a range of platforms, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Commonwealth Government’s Better Access scheme, and through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,” Ms Hunter said.

“And, of course, this year has been a particularly challenging one for all of us. The mental health consequences of COVID-19 are still to be completely understood, and the delivery of mental health care has been enormously complicated by the pandemic. This forum is therefore particularly timely.”

Monday’s conference features a keynote address by Dr Carolynne White, Adjunct Research Fellow in the Department of Health and Medical Science at Swinburne University of Technology. Dr White has a particular interest in the upstream determinants of mental health, such as stigma and discrimination.

Another keynote will be delivered by Ms Maggie Toko, the Deputy Commissioner of the Mental Health Complaints Commission in Victoria. Ms Toko has worked in the fields of homelessness, youth, sexual assault, mental health, and drug and alcohol dependence. She has spent 5 years teaching at RMIT University in the Global Studies unit, teaching the Diploma of Drug and Alcohol and Mental Health – the last three years teaching First Nations students in the Northern Territory.

The Forum will include 42 scientific presentations, enabling attendees to acquaint themselves with the latest research being undertaken by colleagues.

Mrs Lisa Greene, an Adelaide based occupational therapist, will deliver a presentation entitled ‘Riding the Wave’: Developing and Delivering a Telehealth Group Program in the time of COVID-19. This will explore the challenges in developing and delivering a telehealth group program during a time of significant upheaval for services and participants, as well as the effectiveness of this type of service delivery for participants experiencing psychosocial disability.

Ms Tania Nicholls, NDIS Program Lead at St Vincent’s Mental Health Service, will offer: Tips and tricks to get better outcomes for consumers in the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This presentation will provide an overview of the resources available to mental health practitioners to help them ensure their clients can better navigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme and unlock the potential of NDIS funded supports.

Ms Silvana Izzo, a Service Development Consultant at Victorian Transcultural Mental Health, will deliver a presentation entitled: Enhancing inclusive mental health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer communities, from multicultural, spiritual and faith based communities via transmedia storytelling. Ms Izzo will examine the design, development and launch of a digital platform to share the experiences and wellbeing needs of LGBTIQ+ people from multicultural, spiritual and faith based communities via co design and co-production methodologies.

Further details of the OTA Mental Health Forum can be accessed here.

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