NDSU Research Symposium on Mental Health

September 24, 2021

The NDSU President’s Council for Campus Well-being (PCCW) and the Office of Research and Creative Activity (RCA) will be sponsoring a mental health research symposium on Friday, September 24, 2021. The symposium is designed to support scholars in developing collaborations and seeking avenues of funding for research development.

The PCCW was formed to support the academic mission of the university by taking a holistic approach of increasing and sustaining all aspects of campus well-being. The PCCW is a multidisciplinary group of NDSU faculty, staff, students, and community partners brought together to address a range of social and environmental factors with the goal of strengthening the health and well-being of our campus community.

NDSU human development and family science professor Christi McGeorge is one of the organizers for the symposium. She commented, “As we were thinking about a theme for the research symposium and discussing the different aspects of campus well-being, we kept coming back to the idea of mental health and how important it is to facilitate conversation about various aspects of it. We were aware that researchers from across campus were already exploring different facets of mental health from both academic and clinical perspectives and we set out to bring them together to spark new collaborations and connections.”

12:00pm - Panel begins
1:15pm - Table Discussions and Poster Session
2:30pm - Symposium Ends

Panel Presentions:

Horses as Partners in Mental Health Treatment
Erika Berg, PhD
Associate Professor, Animal Sciences  

Erika Berg is an Associate Professor of Animal Sciences. Erika teaches courses in equine physiology, research and issues in animal science, and courses in equine assisted services which is where her passion lies. She has been involved in the field of equine assisted services since 1995, working in the areas of adapted therapeutic horsemanship, equine assisted learning, physical and occupational therapy incorporating equine movement, and psychotherapy incorporating equine. Her research interests are understanding the impact of partnering horses and people on both equine and human participants. She also oversees NDSU’s Bison Strides Equine Assisted Services program. Bison Strides is accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) and is currently the only PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in the state of North Dakota. Just 31% of the over 800 PATH Intl. centers worldwide have earned this status. In addition, NDSU is one of only 15 PATH Intl. Higher Education Members in the U.S. and embodies the land-grant ideals of NDSU through innovative education, research and outreach.


Connecting Teens at Risk to Mental Health Care: The Student Wellness Facilitator Program
Joel Hektner, PhD
Professor and Head, Human Development and Family Science 

Joel Hektner is Professor and Head of the Department of Human Development and Family Science. His research interests include interventions and training programs that promote well-being and prevent problems in youth and families as well as family and school conditions that facilitate optimal development. Dr. Heknter teaches courses in quantitative research methods, parent-child relations, and well-being promotion. He is the primary coauthor of a 2007 book on the Experience Sampling Method, as well as 50 journal articles and book chapters.

Sleep-Related Decisions and their Impact on Health and Well-Being
Leah Irish, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychology

Leah A. Irish is an Associate Professor of Psychology and an Adjunct Scientist at the Sanford Center for Biobehavioral Research. Prior to joining the faculty at NDSU, she earned a Ph.D. in Experimental Health Psychology from Kent State University and completed postdoctoral fellowship in sleep and circadian science at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Irish's research considers the complex interplay between sleep and waking health behaviors, with a particular emphasis on eating behavior, and investigates strategies for sleep health improvement for the general population. 

If you plan to attend and have lunch, please register by September 20, 2021 at noon. You can register after that time if you want to attend without lunch. 

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