My name is Steph and I am currently in my final semester of my Master of Occupational Therapy at Curtin University. I am 30 years old and am a single mother to my wonderful (almost 4-year-old) son, Teddy.
I am passionate about my field of study because I believe that professionals like Occupational Therapists have a unique opportunity to improve the lives of others by helping people to do what is most important to them. Before I commenced my studies, I didn't realise the scope that was available for OT's to help such a wide range of people - from people with physical disabilities, to people living with mental illness to supporting our increasingly ageing community.
I have known for a long time that I wanted to work in the health sector, however, it took me a few years to figure out just how I could make my mark. I wanted the opportunity to work closely with my clients, and OT has an exciting approach that enables me to help people identify their goals and develop actionable steps towards achieving them. Overall, my OT studies have given me so much more than I had expected and I cannot wait to get out into the community in just over three months and start helping others. OT has developed not only my ability to identify how I can support others, but how I can empower my clients to support themselves throughout their recovery.
I am particularly passionate about the field of youth, adolescent and child mental health. The mental health crisis facing children and our youth is a real one - suicide is the cause of death for people below 30 in Australia, and shockingly, this is impacting on children younger and younger. The impact of social media, cyberbullying and increasing demands on our time has left many of us without the strategies to cope or the confidence to ask for help.
Following graduation, I hope to work for a non-for-profit such as Headspace, or in acute or community mental health to support those living with mental illness. I want to advocate for changes in funding to ensure schools are provided with the support and education they need to not only identify students at risk, but provide support that can improve their outcomes. I would like to research the impact of suicide prevention programs at universities and help universities to design programs that are sustainable and lead to positive changes in youth suicide and mental illness.
Occupational Therapy is a mental health profession that flies under the radar. My hope for the future is that OT's are looked to - to be the advocates for change in our health sector, to create innovative changes in our approaches to healthcare and to make a difference in each individual clients life.