Improving mental health supports in a collaborative and flexible environment
As psychology advisors at WorkSafeBC, Dr. Gavin Elder and Dr. Megan Udala are part of WorkSafeBC's Mental Health Services team that supports injured workers with mental health claims.
They joined WorkSafeBC just over a year ago and have come to appreciate how collaborative their team and work are. "Psychology can be somewhat an isolating experience where you focus more on working one-on-one with clients and you may be the only psychologist on a team, but here we have several psychologists all working together," says Dr. Udala.
"It's been a great opportunity for me to partner with other psychologists and share ideas on how to support the return-to-work process for injured workers in B.C. — all while increasing awareness of the importance of workplace mental health."
Collaborating as a team to support injured workers
Dr. Elder and Dr. Udala are part of an interdisciplinary team that includes mental health specialists, critical incident response staff, psychology advisors, and other clinical advisors who work together with claim management teams to solve complex cases. The opportunity to work with mental health professionals from different backgrounds is something both Dr. Elder and Dr. Udala appreciate.
"Many of our injured clients have head injuries, and neuropsychology is one of Megan's areas of expertise," says Dr. Elder. "From working with her, I've developed a better understanding of neuro-psychological conditions and the nuanced ways they interact with mental health conditions."
In addition to working with other mental health professionals, psychology advisors provide mental health guidance and expertise to a range of professionals in the community, including family doctors, mental health specialists, vocational rehabilitation experts, and community psychiatrists and psychologists.
Dr. Udala adds that being able to connect with individuals from different disciplines is engaging and keeps the role interesting. Another key benefit is the amount of support she gets from working in a collaborative team environment.
"I'm being mentored and supervised by other psychologists, and the support has been tremendous in terms of learning how to apply my psychological knowledge and practice to a return-to-work context."
Accomplishing valuable work in a flexible environment
Dr. Udala enjoys the challenge of always facing something new in her work: "Each claim has its own unique psychological factors. While there is some overlap in terms of conditions, presentations, and resources to recommend, I find that each claim has individual factors that require close attention."
For Dr. Elder, his forensic background and interest in exploring different areas of psychology made for a natural fit for the psychology advisor role. Plus, he appreciates the flexibility offered at WorkSafeBC as a part-time psychology advisor.
"I've worked in a variety of settings, including a juvenile detention centre, a prison, a college counseling centre, and an addictions outpatient psychiatry unit," says Dr. Elder. "I get to apply my forensic experience in all sorts of different ways. That's what I love about the work here: the variety, flexibility and I feel my contributions are valued."
A unique career path with opportunities for advancement
The diversity of settings and populations is just one of the reasons why Dr. Elder loves his job at WorkSafeBC. He also sees prospects for professional advancement in his career.
"I can see myself moving forward here because of the opportunities WorkSafeBC offers to move into senior advisor or management roles," says Dr. Elder. "Plus, being able to both supervise as a mentor and learn as a mentee is really unique and rewarding."
WorkSafeBC is looking for registered psychologists, including recent psychology graduates, to join our dynamic Mental Health Services team. We offer a flexible, hybrid work setting in a culture of professional collaboration and respect.
Learn more and apply at worksafebc.com/careers.