Ryerson grad Meigan Seto started her career at CCAC hoping to put her previous healthcare experience to work.
Having worked in the hospital system in a mental health unit, the Nursing grad felt a strong affinity for the CCAC’s mission values.
“I felt that the CCAC’s client-centered model, their focus on improving health outcomes and promoting independent living in the community, would be a great fit,” Meigan says.
After completing her application and interview in September of 2012, she was informed of a new tri-ministry initiative to work with children in the school system as a Mental Health and Addiction Nurse.
While the opportunity represented a shift from her previous experience, she was excited to take on a new role and learn new skills.
It proved to be a career-launching decision.
Meigan’s role at CCAC
As a Mental Health and Addictions Nurse in schools, Meigan works in a number of locations both inside and outside of Toronto – and manages a wide variety of tasks.
In practice, Meigan’s role covers everything from early identification and intervention of mental health difficulties, transitioning kids back into the school system and helping them find resources services from local community agencies.
“Working at the CCAC is like working with a family.”
Mental Health and Addiction Nurse, Toronto Central CCAC
After receiving a referral from a school, Meigan arrives on-site and assesses the situation to determine what course of action is appropriate.
“Some of the students and their families are already well-connected to resources, but as a Mental Health Nurse, I have the opportunity to observe the child in their school environment,” she explains.
Meigan is a capable intermediary between diverse parties – healthcare providers, school personnel, parents and children alike.
“The goal of my work is to help improve mental health outcomes for children and youth,” she says. “The CCAC is very well-known with all the various groups we work with.”
She also has the opportunity to help educators learn how to provide effective support, hosting information sessions on mental health first aid, how to connect with children’s families when their child is facing difficulty, school personnel self-care and more.
“By building capacity among school personnel, you’re giving them the tools to be able to create a safe environment for students,” Meigan explains. “That way, students are actually comfortable approaching school staff when they are experiencing difficulty – and they can intervene if there’s an issue at school.”
The skills for success
Working in diverse environments, flexibility is one of the key skills Meigan brings to work each day.
“Situations are always changing,” she says. “You need to approach each situation without bias and be prepared to engage and communicate with different people in an approachable way.”
Problem-solving plays a big role as well. In addition to unique, personal interactions, Meigan must also navigate situations where different resources or procedures are required.
“Certain schools have different policies and requirements, so my role involves being very diplomatic,” she says. “To really be successful you need to navigate that overall system, both within the school and within the family.”
Being aware of different resources is absolutely vital – in some cases, the student or their families have concerns about certain kinds of treatment or medication.
“In those cases I have to think ‘outside the box’ and explore how to locate alternative treatments while taking into account individual preferences and values,” Meigan explains.
“There’s a lot of necessary problem-solving skills on that front, whether that means contacting healthcare partners I’ve developed a relationship with, or conducting research on the fly.”
It’s a real challenge – with a commendable goal.
“Families recognize that you are respecting their wishes and taking the time to explain the process to them,” she says. “That opportunity is also an educational experience to help the students learn more about their options.”
A great fit at CCAC
With nearly two years of experience at the CCAC, Meigan is thrilled with the career she has begun to build.
“Through this, I’ve really been able to build my assessment skills and become more of an expert in this field,” she says.
The challenges of her job encourage development of all the skills Meigan values – communicating and collaborating above all else.
“Everyone has their own way of practicing and their own way of managing,” she says. “It’s all about learning to appreciate those styles and learning to work within them.”
The team at the CCAC plays a big part in her learning and growth as well.
“Working at the CCAC is like working with a family,” Meigan explains. “Everyone recognizes your strengths and each team member benefits from everyone else’s strengths. Sharing expertise contributes to your adaptability and builds your knowledge base to be able to better serve your clients.”
She’s even had the chance to put her French language skills to work in the field, attending a French-speaking healthcare conference as well.
“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing improvements with the kids I work with, whether it’s at school, their overall mood or beyond,” she says.
“Kids are a vulnerable group and by helping them when they’re young, I can help them build skills so that in the future they know how to get help and avoid issues as adults.”
There’s no hiding her passion for the work she does at the CCAC.
“My goal is to be an overall advocate for healthcare,” she says.
“I found my niche at CCAC.”