POTAC Spring Forum

Please join us for our annual Spring Forum! This year we will be focusing on the topic of sanism within mental health occupational therapy practice. Sanism is the “systematic subjugation of people who have received ‘mental health’ diagnoses or treatment” (Poole, 2012, p. 20). The agenda includes two incredible guest speakers, and concludes with an open question forum and panel Q&A.
Find more details and resigration options below! 100% of profits (after speaker honorarium), will be given to starting up the Anne MacRae Memorial Scholarship to support psychosocial OT practice.

Date: April 9, 2022
Time: 9:00am-12:00pm PST (3PDUs)

Speakers and Topics:

Jennifer Poole, PhD

Jennifer Poole, PhDIt’s all Maddening: Tracing the connections between sanism(s), racism and oppression

Jennifer or Jen Poole (she/her) is a first-generation white settler living in T’karonto (Toronto, Canada). In her professional life, she is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work where her work has long focused on madness, sanism(s), heartbreak and grief. While teaching and companioning learners is her priority, current collaborative re-search projects focus on sanism(s) in the helping professions, the effects of white supremacy on grief and loss as well as interrupting colonialism and carcerality in education. She is also a co-parent, a community peer supporter, a TEDX talker and a very silly auntie. She is happiest outside.

Abstract: Sanism is an oppression visited on those perceived to be less than ‘sane’. It is insidious, pervasive and woven into every fabric of every day-othering, dismissing, gaslighting, restraining and incarcerating. It also manifests in multiple ways, attaching itself to education, to ‘care’ and to professionalism. But it never strikes alone. In this talk, I seek to make clear(er) the deep connections that tie racism, colonialism and multiple forms of oppression to sanism. Inspired by the work of Indigenous, Abolitionist, Anti-Racist, Mad and Disability Justice activist-scholars, I aim to demonstrate how all forms of oppression work in confluence to make body/minds/lives/experiences invalid (Joseph, 2015; Sins Invalid, 2022). It is not a question of if this happens, but of when under this centuries-old project of dominance, and it’s all maddening. Indeed, this confluence makes madness almost a necessary response to the gaslighting and denial that are visited on those who name, refuse or organize against oppression. The question becomes, can the helping professions make room for this knowing and if so, how?

Stephanie LeBlanc-Omstead, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Stephanie LeBlanc-Omstead, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.): Rethinking Madness & resisting sanism: Applications to mental health OT practice and education

Stephanie (she/her) is a white, mad-identifying occupational therapist of settler decent who currently lives, works and gives care on unceded land in Southwestern Ontario. She is a part-time faculty member in the Disability Studies program at King’s University College, where she challenges the dominance of medicalization in the health professions and beyond. Her research examines ‘service user involvement’ in OT education programs and calls for the interruption of epistemic injustice and sanism in these places. Through her writing, teaching and practice, she has been striving to make space for anti-sanist praxis and mad-positive discourse in OT. Stephanie is also a mother to an almost-three-year-old and has been navigating the joy, grief, and frustration that accompany parenting, learning, and working through a pandemic.

Abstract: In this talk, I discuss what I view as some of the necessary aspects of an ‘anti-sanist’ approach to mental health OT education and practice. I will identify some of the many ways sanism is perpetuated in, and influences, occupational therapy, and begin the important discussion of how we might interrupt this insidious form of oppression in our work. I seek to demonstrate that an anti-sanist OT practice also requires thoughtful engagement with the experiential knowledge of consumers, psychiatric survivors, ex-patients (c/s/x), mad and neurodivergent individuals and communities. I discuss considerations for more ethical and epistemically just engagement with the knowledges and initiatives that have arisen out of the collective organizing of those who have been on the receiving end of so-called mental health care.


9:00am Welcome and Introductions
9:05 Keynote Dr. Jennifer Poole It’s all Maddening: tracing the connections between sanism(s), racism and oppression
10:05 Break (10 min)
10:15 Dr. Stephanie LeBlanc Rethinking madness & resisting sanism: Applications to Mental health OT practice and education
11:15 Break (5 min)
11:20-12pm Panel Q&A and Open Discussion Forum


(If you are not a member and want to join POTAC and get a discount on registration you can join here: https://www.potac.org/join)

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Leblanc, S., & Kinsella, E. A. (2016). Toward epistemic justice: A critically reflexive examination of ‘sanism’ and implications for knowledge generation. Studies in Social Justice, 10(1), 59-78. https://journals.library.brocku.ca/index.php/SSJ/article/view/1324

Meerai, S., Abdillahi, I., & Poole, J. (2016). An introduction to anti-Black sanism. Intersectionalities: A Global Journal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Polity, and Practice, 5(3), 18-35. https://journals.library.mun.ca/ojs/index.php/IJ/article/view/1682

Poole, J. M., Jivraj, T., Arslanian, A., Bellows, K., Chiasson, S., Hakimy, H., … & Reid, J. (2012). Sanism, ‘mental health’, and social work/education: A review and call to action. Intersectionalities: A Global Journal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Polity, and Practice, 1. https://journals.library.mun.ca/ojs/index.php/ij/article/view/348