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Dr Patti Ranahan, PhD

Associate Professor, Applied Human Sciences

Dr Patti Ranahan, PhD

Patti Ranahan is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director of the Graduate Diploma in Youth Work. 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 and trauma-informed group for parents and caregivers. Her practice experience informs 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 pedagogy, enhancing security in parent-youth relationships, and foster parent education, 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 pedagogy and practice, Mental health literacies, Attachment security in parent-youth relationships, 
Foster parent education, Grounded theory
, Discourse analysis, Focused ethnography

Research activities

Reducing Risk and Promoting Health Among Vulnerable Teens and their Families in COVID-19

This study aimed to evaluate the virtual adaptation of Connect - an attachment and trauma-informed intervention for parents and caregivers of adolescents with mental health needs. 
Role: Co-Investigator
Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Sustaining Suicide Prevention Education Efforts: A Community Case Study.

This study investigated a local, rural community context 12-months after a province-wide implementation of a suicide prevention gatekeeper training initiative using a focused ethnographic approach. 
Role: Principal Investigator
Funded by: Faculty Research Award, Concordia University

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

Ranahan, P., Kutcher, S., & Hashish, M. (2020). Introduction to mental health for child and youth care. Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars Press.

White, J., & Ranahan, P. (2020). Learning while doing: Critically interrogating the implementation of a provincial suicide prevention gatekeeper training programme. In S. Shahtahmasebi & H. A. Omar (Eds.), Suicide: The broader view (pp. 147-165). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Ranahan, P. (2020). Suicide prevention education in youth work higher education: Negotiating presence and procedure. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 11(3), 167-191. doi:10.18357/ijcyfs113202019714

Ranahan, P., & White, J. (2019). Creating suicide-safer communities in British Columbia: A focused ethnography. Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, 14(1), 42-58.

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, NY: Oxford University Press.

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

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, 39(2-3), 137-157doi: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, 45(4), 586-598doi:10.1080/19415257.2018.1452783

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

Teaching activities


AHSC 314 Adolescence: Issues and Interventions
AHSC 322/522

Fundamentals of Child and Youth Care Work
AHSC 382 Qualitative Research Methods for Practitioners

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., & Keefe, V. (2021, April). Sustaining and catalyzing suicide prevention efforts: A community case study. Poster presentation at the 54th Annual American Association of Suicidology Conference.

Ranahan, P. & Pascuzzo, K. (2021, May). Présentation d’un programme prometteur pour soutenir la réunification familiale des jeunes à la suite d’un placement. *88e Congrès de l’Association Canadienne Française pour l’Avancement des Sciences (ACFAS), Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada.

Ranahan, P. (2019, October). Learning and applying mental health literacy and suicide intervention education: A grounded theory study with youth work students. Alternative format presentation at the Qualitative Health Research Conference, Vancouver, Canada.

Ranahan, P., Pascuzzo, K., & Moretti, M. (2019, July). Storying shifts, and shifting stories: Documenting the process of enhancing attachment security in parent-youth relationships. Paper presented at the International Attachment Conference, Vancouver, Canada.

Ranahan, P., Yuen, F., & Linds, W. (2019, April). Journeying toward an imagined future: Indigenous youths’ perspectives on wellness. Paper presented at the Child & Youth Care in Action VI: Moving Through Trails and Trials Toward Community Wellness Conference, Victoria, Canada.

Ranahan, P., & White, J. (2019, February). Pivoting toward persuasion and community readiness: A focused ethnography of the process of implementing suicide prevention gatekeeper training. Paper presentation at the 31st Annual Ethnographic & Qualitative Research Conference, Las Vegas, United States.

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