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Dr Patti Ranahan, PhD

Associate Professor, Applied Human Sciences

Dr Patti Ranahan, PhD
Office: L-VE 321-02 
Vanier Extension,
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 3316

Patti Ranahan joined the Department of Applied Human Sciences in December 2011. From 2008 to 2011, she worked as an instructor at Vancouver Island University in the Faculty of Health and Human Services, Child and Youth Care Programs. Dr. Ranahan has over two decades of practice experience working as a child and youth care professional in a variety of settings including residential care, crisis shelters, school-based practice, mental health outpatient services, and community-based foster parent support. She has facilitated suicide intervention education programs, and currently acts as a clinical supervisor of Connect© - an attachment-informed emotion focused group for parents and caregivers. Her practice experiences inform her research and teaching activities. Her program of research focuses on education as intervention, including suicide prevention education, development and application of mental health literacy, youth work and child and youth care pedagogy, and enhancing security in parent-youth relationships through psychoeducation, using qualitative research methods including grounded theory, discourse analysis, and focused ethnography. She is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors.


2011 Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction, University of Victoria
2007 MA, Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria
2001 BA, Child and Youth Care, Malaspina University College
1995 BA, Sociology/Anthropology and English, Carleton University

Research interests

Adolescent suicide
, Suicide prevention education and practice, 
Youth Work and Child and Youth Care pedagogy and practice, Mental health literacies, Attachment Security in Parent-Youth Relationships, 
Grounded theory
, Discourse analysis, Focused ethnography

Research activities

Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training in British Columbia: An Ethnographic Study of a Provincial Implementation Strategy.

This focused ethnography captured the complexities of implementing a province-wide suicide prevention gatekeeper training initiative in British Columbia between 2015-2018.
Role: Co-Investigator with Dr. Jennifer White (University of Victoria)
Funded by: Canadian Mental Health Association - BC Division

Kitinikêwin misiwanacihisowin: Arts-based wellness promotion for suicide prevention among Aboriginal youth

This study examined the issue of Aboriginal youth suicide through arts-based wellness promotion based on Marshall’s “two-eyed seeing” (2009). Indigenous, qualitative, and arts-based research methods are combined with epidemiological and quantitative approaches, taking a proactive approach to integrated knowledge translation and policy formulation.
Role: Co-Investigator
Funded by: CIHR

Applying Mental Health Literacy to Youth Work Practice: A Pilot Case Study

This innovative pilot project was the first qualitative examination of how a mental health literacy curriculum specifically designed for youth work practice was applied in interventions with young people suffering from suicidality or mental health concerns. Using grounded theory, this project aimed to analyze how youth workers apply mental health literacy to practice with young people while completing a series of educational mental health literacy workshops.
Role: Principal Investigator
Funded by: Seed/Accelerator Funding Program - Individual, Concordia University

Addressing Adolescent Mental Health and Suicide Concerns: Enhancing Attachment Security in Francophone Parent-Youth Relationships

Attachment insecurity may increase the risk of mental health concerns, such as suicide ideation. The purpose of this completed innovative pilot study was to explicate the process of attachment security development within francophone parent-youth relationships where the parent is attending an attachment-based, educational intervention entitled the “Connect”and the youth is experiencing mental health and/or suicide concerns.

Role: Principal Investigator

Funded by: Centre for Human Relations and Community Studies

Perspectives on Mental Health Literacy Needs in Youth Work Education and Practice

The purpose of this qualitative survey was examine how youth work educators and practitioners perceive mental health literacy in youthwork pre-service education and practice so literacies (or competencies) might be identified for curriculum development to ensure youth workers are adequately prepared to support young people experiencing mental health concerns and play an active role on a mental health care team.
Role: Principal Investigator
Funded by: Concordia University Research Start Up Grant

A Discourse Analysis of Mental Health Literacies in Youth Workers' Practice with Young People who are Suicidal

The purpose of this completed study was to identify how mental health literacies were discursively produced in narratives of working with young people who are suicidal in a variety of settings (e.g., residential care, outreach and community-based settings, school programs), and explicate how their mental health literacies influence their subsequent actions in the provision of care.
Role: Principal Investigator
Funded by: Concordia University Research Start-Up Grant


Recent publications

White, J., & Ranahan, P.(under review). Learning while doing:Critically interrogating the implementation of a provincial suicide preventiongatekeeper training programme.

Ranahan,P., Yuen, F., & Linds, W. (under review). Exploring Indigenous youths’perspectives on wellness. Psynopsis.

Mann-Feder, V., Blanchet-Cohen, N., Fast,E., & Ranahan, P. (in press). Experientialteaching and learning in child and youth care: An integrative approach tograduate education. Journal of Child andYouth Care Work.


Ranahan,P., & White, J. (in press). Creating suicide-safer communities in British Columbia: Afocused ethnography. Journal ofEthnographic & Qualitative Research.


Ranahan, P.(2019, August). How mental health literacy matters in community social servicepractice. British Columbia Research toPractice Network 2(3), 3-13. The Federation of Community Social Services ofBC. Retrieved from

Yuen, F., Ranahan, P., & Linds, W. (2019). Leisure, cultural continuity,and life promotion. Annals, Leisure andIndigenous Peoples. doi:10.1080/11745398.2019.1653778

Ranahan, P. (2019). Mental health and suicide concerns: Youth work practice implications for young people leaving care. In V. Mann-Feder & M. Goyette (Eds.). Leaving care and the transition to adulthood: International contributions to theory,research and practice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ranahan, P. (2018). De/valuing youth work: Pre-service youth workers' development of professional identity in the context of mental health care. Child & Youth Services. doi: 10.1080/0145935X.2018.1475224

Ranahan, P., & Alsaieq, H. (2018). The professional learning process of enhancing mental health literacy and its application to youth work practice: A grounded theory study. Professional Development in Education. doi:10.1080/19415257.2018.1452783

Ranahan, P., Yuen, F., & Linds, W. (2017). Suicide prevention education: Indigenous youths' perspectives on wellness. Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing, 2(1), 15-28.

Ranahan, P. (2017, March). Deepening a child and youth care understanding of presence: Engaging living-dying dialectical moments. CYC Online Magazine, 217, 4-12. Retrieved from

Ranahan, P., & Thomas, T. (2017). Mental health literacies for interprofessional collaboration: Youth workers’ perspectives on constraining and supporting factors. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 35(3), 69-81. doi:10.7870/cjcmh-2016-039
Ranahan, P. (2016). A suicide researcher’s reflections on dying and living. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Services Review.

Ranahan, P. (2016). Protocols or principles? Re-imagining suicide risk assessment as an embedded, principle-based ongoing conversation in youth work practice. Child & Youth Services, 37(4),362-380. doi: 10.1080/0145935X.2016.1158095
Ranahan, P., & White, J. (2016). Re-envisioning youth work professional development and education in mental health and suicide care. In K. M. Pozzobonoini & B. Kirshner (Eds.), The Changing Landscape of Youth Work: Theory and Practice for an Evolving Field
  (pp. 175-192). Charlotte, NC: Information AgePublishing.

Ranahan, P. (2015). Mental health literacies in  youth work practice with adolescents.  In D. Begoray & E. Banister (Eds.) Adolescent Health Literacy and Learning, (pp. 119-134). New York: Nova. 

Ranahan, P. & Pellissier, R. (2015). Youth workers in mental health care:  Role, mental health literacy development, and framing future research. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work, 25, 229-247.

Ranahan, P., Blanchet-Cohen, N., Mann-Feder, V. (2015). Moving towards an integrated approach to youth work education.
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 6(4), 516-538.

Ranahan, P., & Pellissier, R. (2015). Being green: A discourse analysis of youth workers' initial touchstone experiences with suicidal youth. Relational Child & Youth Care Practice, 27(4), 11-22.

Teaching activities


AHSC 314 Adolescence: Issues and Interventions
AHSC 322/522

Fundamentals of Child and Youth Care Work

AHSC 436 Internship in Youth and Family Work
AHSC 460/560 Health Promotion
AHSC 527 Advanced Youth Work Intervention: Case Management and Supervision
AHSC 540 Mental Health and Addictions: Youth Work Perspectives, Policies, and Practices

Participation activities

Peer-reviewed conferences

Ranahan, P., &White, J. (abstract accepted for paper presentation 2018, October). The implementation of suicide prevention gatekeeper training in British Columbia: A focused ethnography. Paper presentation for the 2018 Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention National Conference,St. Johns, Canada.


Ranahan, P., White,J., & Albach, D. (abstract accepted for paper presentation 2018, October). Engaging with complexity in efforts to create suicide-safer communities. Solution Lab presentation at the 3rdAnnual Canadian Mental Health Association Conference, Montreal, Canada.


Ranahan, P., &White, J. (2018, May). Persuasion, marketization and building community capacity: Implementing a suicide prevention public health initiative. Poster presentation at the 18th Canadian Public Health Association Conference, Montreal, Canada.

Ranahan, P., &White, J. (2018, April). Integrating multiple views and diverse landscapes in implementing a provincially funded suicide prevention gatekeeper training initiative: A focused ethnography. Paper presentation at the 51st Annual American Association of Suicidology Conference,Washington, DC, United States.


White, J.,& Ranahan, P. (2018, May). Researching Relational Realities: Implementing a Provincial Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training Program in BC. Paper presentation at the Transitions & Transformations 2018 CYC Conference, Richmond, Canada.


Ranahan, P., &White, J. (2018, February). A focused ethnography examining the implementation process of a province-wide suicide prevention gatekeeper training program in Canada. Paper presentation at the 30thAnnual Ethnographic & Qualitative Research Conference, Las Vegas, United States.


Ranahan, P., Auclair, N., Polisois-Keating, A.,& Moretti, M. (2018, April). Enhancing attachment security in parent-youth relationships: The Connect Parent Group©. Paper presentation at the 7th Biennial Conference of the Québec Committee for Youth with Behavioural Difficulties/ Comité québecois pourles jeunes en difficulté decomportement, Quebec City, Canada.


Ranahan, P., &White, J. (2017, October). ‘Drinking the Kool-Aid', 'selling seats', and ‘cones of silence’: Engaging diverging perspectives in a focused ethnography of the implementation of a provincial suicide prevention initiative. Alternative format presentation at the International Qualitative Health Research Conference, Quebec City, Canada.


Ranahan, P. (2017, July). Reframing suicide prevention education:Exploring pre-service youth workers’ processes of learning and applying suicide intervention literacies. Paper presented at the Critical Suicidology 2.0 Conference, Canterbury, United Kingdom.


Yuen, F., Ranahan, P., & Linds, W. (2017, May). Leisure, decolonization, and social justice. Paper presented at the Canadian Congress on Leisure Research, Kitchener, Canada.


White, J.,& Ranahan, P. (2017, April). Implementing standardized suicide prevention education in localized and variable contexts: A focused ethnography research design. Paper presented at the Child and Youth Care In Action V Conference, Victoria, Canada.

Ranahan, P. (2016, October). Beyond the prompt: Drawing on spontaneous narratives as a source of data in exploring the process of attachment security enhancement in parent-youth relationships. Alternative format presentation at the International Qualitative Health Research Conference, Kelowna, Canada.
Ranahan, P. (2016, August). Qualitative explorations of youth work and mental health literacy in Canada. Paper presented at the 33rd FICE Congress & 2nd CYC World Conference, Vienna, Austria.
Ranahan, P. (2016, August). Complex and competing demands: The art and process of balancing during suicide interventions in youth work. Poster presented at the 33rd FICE Congress & 2ndCYC World Conference, Vienna, Austria.

Yuen, F.,Linds, W., & Ranahan, P. (2016,May). Imagining wellness with Indigenous youth through arts-based research. Paper presented at the 12thCongress of Qualitative Inquiry, Urbana-Champaign, United States.

Ranahan, P. (2016, April). Drawing on principles, or following protocols? Examining professionals’ practice with suicidal adolescents. Workshop presentation at 6e Congrèsbiennal du Comité québécois pour les jeunes en difficulté de comportement, Quebec City, Canada.
Ranahan,P. (2015, October). Qualitative examinations of youth work and suicide intervention: Unique challenges contributing to a research life at the margins. Alternative format presentation at the Qualitative Health Research Conference, Toronto, Canada.

Ranahan, P. (2015, June). A potentially underutilized resource: How youth workers are on the bandwagon in providing mental health care. Poster presented at the 16th Annual Collaborative Mental Health Care Conference, Calgary, Alberta.

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