OSOT Advocates for Occcupational Therapy Mental Health Services in Ontario Schools

OSOT has met with the Ministry of Education several times over the winter and spring and has submitted a formal proposal for inclusion of occupational therapists amongst those mental health professionals who are hired to work in Ontario's school system.  This advocacy is in response to the growing need for mental health supports to enable Ontario students to develop positive mental health and to promote early identification and services for children/youth experiencing mental health problems. These needs, well documented by the province‚Äôs mental health andaddictions strategy and School Mental Health Ontario, are exacerbated by the urgent need to address the mental health needs of students that result from the COVID 19 global pandemic. 

Occupational therapists are regulated mental health professionals, however, are not well utilized to serve the mental health needs of students in Ontario's school system. Typically engaged to provide school-based rehabilitation services, occupational therapists are known in schools, but are limited from providing services to students with mental health needs as a result of eligibility limitations for school-based rehabilitation. Members note that occupational therapists are most often excluded as eligible professionals for school mental health professional roles. As a result of our advocacy, the Ministry of Education has clarified that there is no policy restriction that restricts inclusion of occupational therapists for mental health roles in schools across the province. We have urged their communication to school boards.

Advocacy for Funding of OT Mental Health Services in Ontario Schools

OSOT's School-Based OT Team and Child and Youth Mental Health Team have collaborated on the development of a proposal to the Ministry of Education to;

  • support funding to hire at least 3 occupational therapists per Board of Education to provide mental health services in schools where there is need 
  • support piloting of an OT led positive mental health program - Every Moment Counts - in 1-2 school boards
  • support exploration of piloting of full-tiered OT mental health services
View OSOT's submissionEngaging Occupational Therapists to Support School Mental Health Services, April 2021

Communication to Ontario Boards of Education 

OSOT has forwarded communication to Superintendents and Mental Health Leads of all Boards of Education in the province to promote occupational therapy as a regulated mental health profession and an important resource to capacity building within the school system to address the growing mental health needs of students in both elementary and secondary schools. This communication included a Fact Sheet - Engaging Occupational Therapists to Support School Mental Health Services.

Join in our Advocacy!

The Society encourages members interested to deliver mental health services in Ontario schools to;

  • monitor job opportunities listed on school board websites, Indeed, etc. - we encourage you to apply...even if qualification requirements suggest only psychologists or social workers
  • identify Boards that are seeking positions and are not inclusive of OT - we'll help you advocate!