Season’s Greetings to All and thanks for taking a moment to reflect with me on the eventful year that was 2019. With a new decade at our doorstep, the coming year is full of challenges and opportunities for our 3,000-member strong association. Now is a great time to take stock of where we are and the prospects which lie ahead. To quote the American novelist James Baldwin, “If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” Let’s take a look back at some of our accomplishments;
We Changed Our Name
This past summer we began the process of changing our name by seeking input and reaction from our membership. We then embarked on an extensive re-branding exercise involving our Board of Directors, communications staff and outside consultants. The result – the OACCPP became the Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals, with a resolution of approval at our AGM in September. Our new name, logo and visual design have been well received and we thank everyone for their input. This new and improved identity has set the stage nicely for our ongoing activities.
Phase II is all about improving our communications capabilities and involves implementing new tools to grow our effectiveness as an association and increase our membership base. The OAMHP name is new but once again, I remind you that our Association remains equally committed to the growth and enhancement of the mental health professions in Ontario and Canada. This includes, as always, supporting the individual professions that make up our membership.
We Welcomed New Members
Over the year, and on any given week, we welcome new members to our Association. 2019 was a special year for membership growth as the OAMHP joined forces with the Ontario Association of Psychological Associates. We’re thrilled to welcome their 300+ members to our ranks. This is a “return home” for the OAPA, as it originally began in 1998 as an offshoot from the OACCPP membership. They bring increased diversity to our membership base and provide important insight and a slightly different lens around their field of practice in mental health.
Our recruitment activities will continue into the new year as we build on our core base of Registered Psychotherapists, Counsellors, Consultants, Psychologists and Psychometrists. We will continue to welcome the specialized professions, Masters level students and graduates currently engaged in practicums. If you have a connection to a group of mental health professionals you feel could benefit from being part of the OAMHP, please get in touch and we can arrange a meeting to discuss how to make this happen.
Our Advocacy Work Continues
Lobby and advocacy remain a central focus of our work. In brief, we have continued to reach out to educate and inform those in positions of power. Our goal is to bring our influence to the table as we lobby for greater awareness and inclusion of RPs, the removal of HST from their therapeutic services and, among other issues, to ensure our Psych Associates are granted the title Psychologist without losing the MA level track for entry.
We, as a group, continue to meet with stakeholders and decision makers both inside and outside the government and fully support the need to change the system to make it more workable as a seamless and effective continuum of care for our membership and the public we serve.
As we move into the new year, we are forging new relationships with other associations; CORPHA, PRPA and the OSSWA to name a few as well as re-enforcing our efforts to regularly meet with the CPO and the CRPO. With a big assist from our lobbyists we are also speaking with discrete groups connected to the current government who stand to impact our positioning in new emerging programs and the re-structuring of the healthcare system.
We’re Providing Even Better Benefits
The focus of the Association has always been serving the needs of mental health professionals, whether it is through professional development, advocacy or personal benefits. We’ll be continuing this work to provide products and services specifically chosen to enhance your career, well-being and lifestyle.
We recently added KindPass. Created by a Registered Nurse in Toronto, KindPass is a wellness program that provides health and wellness professionals with access to more affordable healthy foods, fitness, experiences, products, and services. See our website to learn more and watch for announcements in the new year about further partnerships with businesses and educators we feel are a match for your needs and your profession.
We’ve Expanded Professional Development
The Association diversified the professional development offerings in 2019, focusing on ensuring you have the skills you need to succeed in your profession. We ran five in-person workshops, three webinars, our best-attended annual conference, and many local networking meetings. These covered topics and issues that you felt were important and we worked with the best in the field to ensure the content and experience reflected the standards you expect. We were very pleased to establish a partnership with Beck Institute ensuring that you can get the CBT skills you need. As we look ahead, we continue to check out new programs and learning models including supervision training and peer support for our members and we are also excited to be working on the addition of a peer review journal. If you are interested in becoming a part of our Professional Development committee or have ideas to share then do not hesitate to reach out and let us know!
Year End Survey
If you haven’t done so yet, please take a moment to complete our year-end survey. It covers three topics, including questions about the effects you may encounter with the full implementation of the Controlled Act of Psychotherapy on January 1st. The results to date indicate that many of you have questions about the potential effects of the implementation and would like more information. Our Professional Development Committee is looking into how we can bring clarity to the situation. More to come on this in the new year.
We look Forward to A Productive New Year
As always, this time of year is for reflection and acknowledgement. I want to extend a huge thank-you to the Board of Directors and Chairs of the committees who offer their time, knowledge and skills to ensure the Association achieves our collective goals and fulfills the mandate of the OAMHP.
It is because of their efforts, those of Executive Director Maryann Istiloglu and the entire staff that the OAMHP is so well positioned to be your partner in your mental health career. Our growing membership base also means we have the ears of decision makers at Queen’s Park and around the boardroom tables of Ontario corporations. Together we are advancing our agenda, your profession and the visibility of Ontario’s Mental Health Professionals.
Your continued support for the evolution of the Association is greatly appreciated. Our aim is to be the best association for mental health professionals in Canada. As always, please reach out to me directly or the team at the OAMHP office with your questions or concerns. Our staff is taking some much-needed time off and the office is closed from noon on Dec. 24th to January 2nd. The website will be “open” and accessible for renewal or information if you have not yet renewed your membership for 2020.
All of us wish you and your loved ones the very best for the holiday season and a happy and prosperous new year.