Connecting to Create Change: Reflections on the Virtual OT Mental Health Forum

What a year, and what a year for the importance of mental health in our community. In the midst of turbulent times the Virtual OT Mental Health Forum, held on Monday 16 November 2020, provided the opportunity for occupational therapists from all across Australia to come together and exchange ideas to promote the value of mental health.

The pivot to an online format—a first in the Forum’s 20+ year history—enabled broad access to the knowledge shared regardless of physical location. This resulted in over 270 participants (from all states and territories, as well as Hong Kong, Canada and Singapore) engaging and discussing ideas throughout the day in chats and live Q&A sessions.

Despite the challenges of 2020, the Forum offered a day of (relative) normality, facilitating invaluable connections between peers. Academics and clinicians alike shared emerging research and discussed practice challenges, they networked and met new colleagues, and we all learnt from such a diverse array of contemporary OT mental health research activity.

The sessions were well attended and the Keynote presentations from Carolynne White, Maggie Toko, and Betty Kitchener were particular highlights. Hearing from consumers that could speak so honestly provided real insights and deep truths, and the live Q&A sessions supported our virtual attendees in feeling engaged and heard. For those who couldn’t make it on the day, our OT community is still enjoying the benefits of accessing the majority of presentations on-demand.

I would like to take a moment to thank all those involved in adapting the original in-person format to make this virtual forum such a success. Thank you to our sponsors and exhibitors for your ongoing support and sharing your solutions. To our speakers and presenters for offering your time and insights. To our forum committee for helping to develop such a strong program. To our OTA events team for planning and organising the virtual event. And to our delegates for your enthusiasm and your drive to create positive change.

Take care, and see you at the next OT Mental Health Forum!


  • Mary Evatt (Co-Convenor)
  • Elisa Yule (Co-Convenor)
  • Tracey Fay-Stammbach
  • Kirsti Haracz
  • Adam Lo
  • Gabby Pitt
  • Dave Peters (Consumer)

Forum Overview

  • 63 Abstracts Submitted/40 Oral Presentations
  • 6 ePosters
  • 3 Occupation Stations
  • 3 Keynote Speakers
  • 1 Virtual Bronze Sponsor/6 Virtual Exhibitors

About the Author
Alison Armstead is OTA’s Conference Events Manager, and has helped deliver the 2015, 2017 and 2019 National Conferences, in addition to 10+ Divisional Conferences. Learn more about the upcoming 2021 National Conference (in Cairns and online) here:

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