Date of Award
Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
Dr. Moses Ikiugu, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
mental health, children, occupational therapy, social-emotional
Background. The rate of children experiencing mental health issues is increasing exponentially. Many mental health conditions could be successfully treated in childhood, yet they are overlooked, with only half of the diagnosed cases treated and many others undiagnosed. Youth spend much of their day in school. Therefore, their mental health must be addressed within this setting. Purpose. This capstone project aimed to develop and implement a trauma-informed, occupation-based intervention program for elementary students. Equipping students with self-regulation skills, teaching appropriate calming strategies, and providing opportunities to practice the main components of building healthy relationships. The school staff was educated on various social-emotional learning concepts, and collaboration took place to ensure that concepts were reinforced outside the program. Methods. Students in five elementary classrooms participated in a 10-week occupation-based, social-emotional learning program. Additionally, the staff was educated through various presentations, handouts, and individual conversations over twelve weeks. Changes in behavior, knowledge and mental health status were measured through pretest/posttest measures, teacher interviews, and group session notes. Results. Significant improvements in troubling behaviors and mental health status for students identified as “difficult” before intervention. Classroom teacher interviews indicated substantial improvements in class mental health overall. Significant increases in staff’s confidence to apply social-emotional learning concepts. A positive correlation was found between increased fifth-grade understanding of social-emotional learning concepts and healthy mental health status. Conclusions. Participation in trauma-informed, occupation-based intervention supports positive mental health. Understanding of social-emotional learning concepts is positively correlated with improved mental health status.
Stouffer, Maci K., "Incorporating Trust-Based Relational Intervention in Occupational Therapy to Address Mental Health Needs of Elementary Students" (2022). Occupational Therapy Capstone Presentations. 81.