Hello and welcome to the fall! I hope this message finds you all safe and well and thriving. The past two years have been a decidedly interesting and challenging time to be your President. As we move forward into September, gearing up for our AGM and annual conference, I find myself looking back in wonderment at this period of unprecedented change.
This message also marks my final one as the President of the Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and to recap some of the highlights of the many things that have happened over the past two years.
My tenure began in October 2018 with the CRPO town halls held in communities across Ontario. I was thrilled to meet and talk with so many of our members. The opportunity to hear directly from you was invaluable and throughout my tenure I have strived to stay connected and aware of the various issues that are of importance to you.
This responsiveness was a core belief of my Presidency and I hope you recognize its reflection in the developments of the OAMHP within our everchanging landscape of mental healthcare.
Here are some highlights I would like to mention:
We Adopted A New Name
Our new name – the Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals came into effect with a resolution of approval at our AGM a year ago. This new name better reflects our diverse membership of mental health professionals from a wide variety of disciplines all with a common goal of improving access to and the provision of mental healthcare in Ontario.
This goal encompasses all aspects of the activities of the OAMHP from professional development, raising awareness, removing barriers to advocating for the professional interests of the members.
The OAMHP name may be new yet as an Association we are still equally committed to the growth and enhancement of the mental health professions in Ontario and Canada. This includes, as always, supporting each of the individual professions that make up our membership.
Growth & Advocacy
Since last September, the OAMHP membership has grown by 16%. There is always strength in numbers and this growth translates to enhanced group benefits and a stronger voice for all we do in lobbying and raised awareness of critical issues. Our recruitment activities are ongoing as we build on our core base of members and as always, we welcome the specialized professions, Masters level students and graduates currently engaged in practicums.
Lobbying and advocacy continue to be a central focus of our work as we reach out to educate and inform those in positions of power. Our goal is to bring our influence to the table lobbying for greater awareness and inclusion of RPs, the removal of HST from therapeutic services and, among other issues, to ensure that Psych Associates are granted the title Psychologist without losing the MA level track for entry.
We continue to work together to find new ways to address concerns like access, quality of care and fair compensation for our professional services. And seeing the unrest in our communities, we have begun laying the groundwork for an OAMHP anti-racism/anti-oppression Advisory Committee. These issues and others remain on the agenda for the Board of Directors and sub committees in the coming year.
As a group, we 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.
The OAMHP Executive Director, Maryann Istiloglu and I have reached out and attended many meetings with government stakeholders over the last few years. Each meeting a key step in building a dialogue with the Government of Ontario on the crucial issues related to mental health.
As always, our positioning is about the many ways that the skilled workforce of the OAMHP membership is essential to the overall continuum of care and effective mental health treatment right across the province. We consistently raise questions about how best to improve care and remove barriers to access; whether seeking HST exemptions on client services, increased insurance coverage or heightened awareness of the roles we each play.
Some of those we have met with include senior leaders within the Government as well as other key stakeholders and organizations, including:
- The Ministries of Finance, the Attorney General, Health and Long-Term Care
- Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
- Treasury Board, ON (requested the addition of RPs to the provincial benefits plan)
- The Association of Family Health Teams Ontario
- Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
- Addictions and Mental Health Ontario
- Ontario Association of Social Workers
Key Partnerships and Collaborations
The OAMHP also holds a seat at CORPHA (the provincial Coalition of Regulated Health Professional Associations), the PRPA (Partnership of Regulated Psychotherapist Associations) and the Mental Health and Addictions Covid-19 Response Table. We work hard to stay well-informed on funding, policy, and approaches to care that affect our members and we leverage our access to monitor and add input to those shaping the landscape for the delivery of mental health services in Ontario and Canada.
The OAMHP staff and Board of Directors has a long history of responding effectively to these developments and will continue to be proactive on these matters. Part of our key messaging is that we are good partners and always open to explore new ways that we can work together to close the gaps in the provision of mental health services in Ontario.
In addition, we continue to support RPIC (Registered Psychotherapy Insurance Committee). Our contributions to this group help sustain and support the efforts and work of this committee as they address Insurance programs and work towards seeing RP’s added to employee benefit plans.
Improved Access to Professional Development
In the past two years, the Association has diversified the professional development offerings focusing on providing the skills you need to succeed in your profession. We have produced many in-person workshops, webinars, our best-attended annual conference in 2019, and many local networking meetings. Among these you will find our work with CAPT (Canadian Association of Psychodynamic Therapy) where we have seamlessly offered joint workshops to the benefit of both memberships.
We also continue to foster partnerships to increase the value of your membership. This includes partnering with Adler Graduate Professional School to allow CRPO and OCSWSSW regulated OAMHP members to enroll in Adler’s Online Clinical Supervisor Training course at a reduced and special rate. And of course, with the Beck Institute to ensure you can access the CBT skills that you need. Some examples of offered workshops being CBT for Depression & Suicidality and CBT for PTSD.
These are some among the many topics and issues that you told us were important and we worked with the best in the field to ensure the content and experience reflect the standards you expect. Then in these unprecedented times, we moved what we could on-line and assisted in helping you transition to virtual counselling and client management with new platforms and online training.
As our membership base has grown, we’ve been able to negotiate added benefits for your membership dollars. In this past year in addition to Professional Development opportunities, we’ve add a group plan with CAA, a 15% discount with Leading Edge Seminars, 50% discount on Kind Pass for health and wellness, an additional insurance program for cyber security, plus virtual mental healthcare and administrative platforms. Visit the member’s area of OAMHP.ca to learn about all the available benefits and how to take full advantage of your membership.
Annual General Meeting and 2020 Conference
Our Annual General Meeting will be held virtually this year on September 24th, 2020. I encourage all of you to attend. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented action. Get involved, speak up and be heard.
Please also join me at our Annual Conference, Diversity in Action, Reaching the Mental Health Needs of All People. The conference runs from the 24th until Oct. 10 opening shortly after the AGM. We are pleased to have Minister Tibollo as our keynote speaker and taking questions so do not miss this opportunity to come out and be bold. I look forward to seeing you all there.
It has been my pleasure and honour to be the President of the OAMHP for these past two years. Please Welcome Jane Alway, President Elect of the OAMHP.
Thank you all.