Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Lavonne Fox


Burnout, Professional -- prevention & control; Health Promotion; Stress, Psychological -- prevention & control; Students, Health Occupations -- psychology


McManus (2007) indicates that healthcare professionals, who are highly committed and involved in their profession, often experience stress and burnout. A multitude of stressors effect health care professionals, including time restraints, workload, multiple roles, and emotional investment in the career (McCann et aI., 2013). Jennings (2009) makes the connection that stress does not begin when medical students enter the workforce, but starts during their academic preparation as well. Allied health profession students and professionals are not exempt from experiencing considerable stress and burnout (Harris, Cumming, & Campbell, 2005; Othman, Farooqui, Yusoff, & Adawaiyah, 20\3). Harris and colleagues (2005) found that "the single significant predictor of psychological distress and life satisfaction was perceived stress" (p. 198). At a college level, students do not proactively seek out mental health resources before a crisis point has been reached largely due to the stigma associated with having a mental illness (Wynaden et aI., 2014).

The purpose of this scholarly project was to propose a Mental Health Wellness Program for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) to implement to reduce stress and burnout associated with intensive school programming for all students. A Mental Health Prevention Model is the framework for this program incorporating the Person-Environment-Occupation Model of Occupational Therapy (PEO). The PEO model examines the transaction between three concepts: Person, Environment and Occupation, with the goal of an optimal fit for competent occupational performance. The Mental Health Prevention Model utilizes a tbree-tiered approach focusing on: (1) universal interventions, (2) targeted group interventions and (3) intensive/individual interventions.

A decline in mental health can impact daily functioning. Mental health challenges in students are often due to increased stress levels, increased burnout, and a lack of balance in tbeir personal and professional lives (Harris et aI., 2005; Jennings, 2009; Rizer, Fagan, Kilmon, & Rath, 2015;). Occupational demands of being a student may exceed the person's ability to cope and participate competently in not only school tasks, but in fulfilling other meaningful roles as well. The student may not feel adequate supports from tbe environment to continue engaging in academia or other occupations needing to be performed.

The goal of the program is to optimize the fit between the person, the environment, and tbe occupations of the student in the SMHS. It is proposed the SMHS use the learning communities to develop a school wide environment that more actively promotes the established learning communities primary goals. Doing this will promote a more balanced life to meet occupational demands, establish healthy habits and routines they carry into their professional life, and more effectively meet the needs of their future clients and colleagues.