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OTS 150: Are OT Practitioners, Mental Health Providers?

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Welcome to the show notes for Episode 150 of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast.

Abe Saffer and Dr. Miranda Virone are here to dive into the roots of occupational therapy’s involvement in mental health, uncover current challenges, and explore practical strategies for integrating effective mental health interventions in schools.

If you're looking to expand your impact and equip yourself with the necessary skills and knowledge to address these kinds of challenges, or are just curious about the evolution of school-based mental health strategies, this discussion is for you. Tune in to learn more!

Listen now to learn the following objectives:

  • Learners will identify strategies for advocating the role of OT in mental health

  • Learners will be able to apply strategies for integrating mental health interventions into their practice

  • Learners will be able to analyze the biopsychosocial approach

Guests Bios

Dr. Miranda Virone

Dr. Miranda Virone, OTD, MS OTR/L, PhD(c) is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, Educational Consultant, and passionate advocate for youth mental health. She serves as the co-facilitator of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) School Mental Health Community of Practice, the AOTA representative for the National Center of School Mental Health Advisory Board and served as a co-author of the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association School Based Guidelines.

Dr. Virone educates and advocates for occupational therapy’s role in school mental health by presenting at the state and national level, conducting and mentoring research projects, and leading student fieldwork experiences in school mental health initiatives.

Abe Saffer

Abe Saffer has over 15 years working in policy and lobbying, political communication, political organizing, and campaign management. He has established, maintained, and led successful coalitions on local, state, and national levels to educate and advance issues.

Abe possesses specialized skills in crafting comprehensive messaging and advocacy strategies tailored to ensure complex policies effectively resonate with a wide range of audiences. He has extensive experience in analyzing and drafting legislation. He has also been quoted in multiple publications, and has authored several articles and editorials. He has an ability to thrive in high paced and intense work environments.

Abe is currently a federal lobbyist for the American Occupational Therapy Association, lobbying Congress and the Administration on a number of issues, including: special and general education, early intervention, workforce, diversity and equity, health, appropriations, mental health, Medicaid in schools, and general disability.


“I really think that we need to inject mental health and just about to every session like we can't just ignore mental health, it is really a backbone of every single thing that a child does”

 -Jayson Davies, M.A, OTR/L

“OTs eligible in every single state as a mental health profession”

-Abe Saffer

“Our lens is so very different from everybody else's that if we can just build the courage to talk about it and feel comfortable and confident talking about it we can break down a lot of barriers.”

 -Dr. Miranda Virone

“It's usually not a federal barrier that is preventing you from doing something it is generally if anything, it might be a state law. But more often than not, it's just people who don't understand what OTs is.

-Abe Saffer

“The biggest barrier that we face is misconceptions that have solidified that schools are so risk averse”

-Abe Saffer

“You need to be able to convince the administrator”

-Abe Saffer

“You can't assume that your school administrators know anything about ESSA there's a very strong chance that they don't… it can open up a lot of doors, it can open up a lot of conversations too”

-Dr. Miranda Virone




Episode Transcript

Expand to view the full episode transcript.

Click on the file below to download the transcript to your device.

Ep 150 - Are OT Practitioners, Mental Health Providers_
Download PDF • 180KB

Be sure to subscribe to the OT Schoolhouse email list & get access to our free downloads of Gray-Space paper and the Occupational Profile for school-based OTs. Subscribe now!

Thanks for visiting the podcast show notes! If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts

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