Bonnie Kirsh

B. Kirsh's PortraitProfessor
Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
(416) 978-4647


School of Graduate Studies
  • Full Member
Cross Appointments
  • Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, University of Toronto
  • Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, School of OT, Dalhousie University

Dr. Bonnie Kirsh is a Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, and holds cross appointments to the Department of Psychiatry and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto as well as the School of Occupational Therapy at Dalhousie University. She was a member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Workforce Advisory Committee from its inception. Her primary research focuses on community and work integration for persons with mental illnesses, and she has conducted studies examining workplace anti-stigma initiatives, organizational culture and mental health, Canadian principles and practices in the area of work integration, social policy as it relates to employment for people with mental illnesses, and supported employment. She uses mixed methods in her research including quantitative, qualitative and participatory research.

Selected Recent Publications
  1. Kirsh, B, Friedland, J., Cho, S, Gobalasundaranathan, N., Orfus, S., Salkovitch, M., Snider, K. & Webber, C. (in press). Experiences of university students living with mental health problems: Interrelations of the self, the social, and the school. WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation.
  2. Gewurtz, R., Rush, B., Cott, C. & Kirsh, B. (2015). How does outcome-based funding affect service delivery? An analysis of consequences within employment services for people living mental illnesses. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 42(1), 19-28.
  3. Stuart, H., Chen,S., Christie, R., Dobson, K., Kirsh, B., Knaak, S., Koller, M., Krupa, T., Lauria-Horner, B., Luong, D., Modgill,G. , Patten, S, Pietrus, M., Whitley, R., & Szeto, A.(2014). Opening Minds in Canada: Targeting change. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 59 (10 Suppl 1), S13-18.
  4. Illman, S., Spence, S., O’Campo, P. & Kirsh, B. (2013). Exploring the occupations of homeless adults living with mental illnesses in Toronto. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. 80(4), 215-223.
  5. Kirsh, B., Slack, T. & King, C. (2012). The nature and impact of stigma towards injured workers. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. 22(2), 143-154.
  6. Kirsh, B., Gewurtz, R. & Bakewell, R. (2011). Critical characteristics of supported housing: Resident and service provider perspectives. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health. 30(1), 15-30.
  7. Kirsh, B., Krupa,T., Cockburn, L., Gewurtz, R. (2010). A Canadian model of work integration for persons with mental illness.Disability and Rehabilitation, 32(22), 1833-1846.
Recent Thesis/Projects Supervised
  1. The occupational lives of problem gamblers. Jing Shi (PhD). In progress.
  2. An organizational study of mental health in the workplace. Cindy Malachowski (PhD.) 2015.
  3. Understanding the work of university students with mental health issues: An institutional ethnography. Roula Markoulakis (PhD). 2014.
  4. Constructing public policy for marginalized groups: A case study of ODSP employment in the mental health sector. Rebecca Gewurtz (PhD). 2010.
  5. Finding meaning in place: Living long term in psychiatric hospital. Bice Amoroso (MSc). Co-supervisor with Prof. H. Polatajko. 2011.
  6. How do OT’s assess work readiness for their mental health clients? OTs’ perspectives. Sumiyyah Choudhary and Shani Viner, (MScOT). 2014.
  7. What are the attitudes of employers towards the Canadian Standard for Psychological Safety in the Workplace? A qualitative study. Laura Kalef and Courtney Rubin, (MScOT). 2014.
Research Interests

Stigma Reduction Interventions and their efficacy; Employment and Mental Health Consumers; Workplace Culture and Mental Health; Community Support For Mental Health Consumers; Quality improvement in Community Mental Health; Return-to-Work Issues for Injured Workers;; Qualitative Methods; Mixed Methods; Participatory Research.

Current Courses
  • OCT 1162Y: Psychosocial Perspectives in Occupational Therapy
Special Lectures / Keynote Speeches
  1. Transforming values into action: Advocacy as a professional imperative. Muriel Driver Lectureship. May 29, 2015. Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  2. The way forward: Realizing work potential and possibilities for people with lived experience. Keynote address. The Island Schizophrenia conference, Nov. 28, 2014. Victoria BC.
  3. Combating stigma: Approaches and their effectiveness. Leadership assembly of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, October 16, 2012. Ottawa, Ont.
  4. Psychologically healthy workplaces. Fourth Pan-Canadian Conference: Integrated Chronic Disease Prevention: It Works! (CDPAC) Feb 9, 2012. Ottawa.
  5. Translating qualitative research into practice and enhancing the therapeutic alliance. Keynote address. Occupational Therapy Australia 24th National Conference and Exhibition 2011. June 29, 2011. Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
  6. Promoting healthy workplaces: Best practices and implications for policy. Roundtable with The Honourable Lisa Raitt, P.C., M.P., Minister of Labour. August 9, 2010. Toronto.
  7. Managing in stressful times: Designing mentally healthy workplaces. Fourth annual mental health forum at Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto. October 8, 2009.