Ruth Lira works in Private Practice and has a special interest in how mental health issues can affect members in the community. Her experience includes working with balance/ vestibular disorders, War Veterans and motor vehicle/ work injuries, as well as artists and musicians. Clients can present with various mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and post traumatic experiences. She is dedicated to understanding the psycho-social aspect of injuries and motivate these clients towards a better physical and mental health state, towards a meaningful life.
Associate Professor Jo Connaughton is currently the Chair of the Australian Physiotherapy Mental Health Special Interest Group, Secretary on the Executive Committee of the International Organisation of Physiotherapists in Mental Health (IOPTMH) and the Australian representative of the IOPTMH. In July 2018 Jo Connaughton stepped down from Dean, School of Physiotherapy at University of Notre Dame Australia following a physiotherapy career spanning over 40 years including. In her 30 years of clinical work Jo practiced in almost all aspects of physiotherapy in metropolitan and regional WA, working with people from across the lifespan in both public and private settings including acute mental health. As Discipline Leader in an acute mental health facility Jo worked predominately with people aged between 18 and 65, however, also worked with older adults and supervised physiotherapists working in the psychogeriatric units. Jo joined the University in 2007 and in semi-retirement now teaches undergraduate students pathophysiology, presentation and treatment of mental health conditions. She is also a qualified Mental Health First Aid instructor and advocates for this to be included in undergraduate degrees. Jo's research in the mental health field includes exploring attitudes of physiotherapists and physiotherapy students towards mental health and psychiatry and more recently how these are influenced by inclusion of Mental Health First Aid training in undergraduate programs. Jo has also researched headaches experienced by people with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder and has presented her research findings at National and International Conferences.
Ellie graduated with honours from Curtin University in 2018. She completed her honours thesis in the area of mental health, and published her paper with the Journal of Physiotherapy in 2019. Ellie is currently working as a physiotherapist at Royal Perth Hospital, and wishes to continue research and involvement in the area of mental health.
Susan Edgar is a current committee member of the WA branch of the APA Mental Health group and has been a qualified Mental Health First Aid instructor since 2017. Susan has been working in tertiary education for the last 14 years, including three years (2016-2019) as Associate Dean of the School of Physiotherapy, Notre Dame. Susan won an Australian Award for University Teaching in 2016 for implementing and promoting life-long wellness and self-management strategies to enhance the mental health, confidence and emotional wellbeing of Physiotherapy students on clinical placement. Her research areas include the impact of motivation and engagement on learning and mental health literacy in physiotherapy students. In 2019, Susan completed a Graduate Certificate in Education, Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing, at Flinders University. Susan has a strong interest in the link between social disadvantage and mental health problems and since 2014 has been providing volunteer physiotherapy services, for organisations supporting people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness around Perth. She is a strong advocate for physiotherapists supporting clients' mental health through education, exercise and wellbeing strategies.