Department of Occupational Therapy spotlights mental health and meaningful participation at annual Knowledge Exchange

The Department of Occupational Therapy at Colorado State University brought together students, faculty, alumni and OT practitioners virtually on April 23 for the annual Knowledge Exchange Event, which took place for the first time ever in this format. This year’s theme was “A Sensory Perspective on Meaningful Participation in Mental Health and Well-Being.”

Antoine Bailliard portraitThe day-long event included keynote speaker Antione Bailliard, associate professor of occupational science and occupational therapy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, research presentations from current OT students, breakout sessions with department faculty and OT practitioners, and a panel discussion.

“The Knowledge Exchange was a great opportunity to learn about sensory impacts on performance and participation in different contexts,” said Hannah Burke, Ph.D. student. “As a graduate student researcher, it was motivating to hear about the variety of research that has been done and is ongoing in this area.” 

The panel discussion included the keynote speaker Bailliard, mental health care practitioners, an academic researcher, and individuals with the lived experience of mental health challenges.

It was great to be a part of the panel and learn what occupational therapy is,” said Kendal Nolan, a panel discussion member. “I especially appreciated the chance to bring in advice from both professional and lived experiences.”

Fostering meaningful participation

The event featured multiple voices giving their perspectives on how to create meaningful participation from a sensory perspective across the age span. Speakers also discussed ways to promote mental well-being through sensory systems neuroscience and implications for client-centered services.

Keynote speaker Bailliard’s lecture “From Neuroscience to meaningful participation: A sensory perspective on mental health and well-being” focused on the neuroscience of sensory-based interventions for adults with mental health issues including the sensory process patterns among this population in relationship to participation in daily life. In his lecture, Bailliard also explored ways to promote mental well-being among all adults through an awareness of the neuroscience of sensory systems.

Bailliard also presented the Mary Scott Lecture on Thursday, April 22, to the broader community with an interest in mental health issues.  “Stabilization Through Participation: How Meaningful Activities Promote Mental Health, Wellness, and Belonging” covered the role of participation in meaningful activity as a stabilizing factor for adults with mental illness.

“This year’s Knowledge Exchange was an amazing exploration of the connection between how we sense our world and how that affects our capacity to engage in it,” said Deana Muñoz, OT master’s student. “Mental health considerations come up in any OT setting, and Dr. Bailliard helped us expand our ideas about how to use sensory strategies to better treat and advocate for our clients.”

Recognizing OT alumni and friends

Each year at the Knowledge Exchange event, awards are presented to alumni and friends of the department.

Distinguished CSU OT Alum Award

This award is presented to a CSU-OT graduate who has made significant contributions to the profession of occupational therapy.  The recipient of this year’s award, Amy Darragh (M.S., occupational therapy, Ph.D., environmental health) is now the division director at The Ohio State University in their Doctor of Occupational Therapy program.

Friend of CSU OT Award

The first recipient of the Friend of CSU OT Award is Carole Makela, professor in the School of Education and chair of CSU’s Curriculum Committee. Makela was instrumental to the department as she guided them through moving the new Doctor of Occupational Therapy program curriculum through CSU’s approval process.

The second award was presented to Robert Hudgens who recently retired from CSU and was a counselor in the Office of Financial Aid. He was recognized for working tirelessly with CSU-OT students in supporting them through the complexity of financial aid.

CSU OT Fieldwork Educator Award

The City of Fort Collins Adaptive Recreation Opportunities Program is the recipient of the CSU-OT Fieldwork Educator Award. ARO was recognized for providing fieldwork opportunities that provide quality and equal opportunities for recreation and leisure to community members with disabilities.

The Department of Occupational Therapy is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.