Date of Graduation

Fall 8-26-2015

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Behavioral Health (MSBH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Kathy Raffel PhD.,


Executive Summary

Bill Wilson Center (BWC) is a community-based not-for-profit organization that provides mental health services, shelter, and support services to homeless youths and families in Santa Clara County. The agency currently has 137 staff members in the mental health division. The agency currently does not have an existing wellness program. The goal of this project is to evaluate the needs of the employees and what type of wellness activities they are interested in. BWC’s employees are the agency’s most valuable assets. Only through top performance can the agency continue to provide the highest level of services to more than 3,500 clients each year. BWC recognizes and acknowledges that the daily work performed by all staff in a social services environment, where caring for others is a top priority, can take its toll on a person’s health and well-being. The pressures of productivity goals, limited staff, funding priorities, and supporting clients with numerous problems can wear on the mental health professional, thus creating high levels of stress, compassion fatigue and employee turnover. In order for BWC to continue to provide the outstanding services it is known for, the staff at all levels of the organization must receive the support they need to perform their jobs. This includes the means to reduce or eliminate stress and feel valued for their hard work and dedication.

Stress affects the health and the ability to function well at work and at home. Unmanaged stress can lead to an array of health-related problems, which is why BWC is proposing to introduce a wellness program to help the employees focus more on their own well-being. Wellness is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being, it is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The healthier the staff, the better they can serve their clients and help them achieve their own wellness. As this program is rolled out, the first issue to tackle at BWC is reducing stress levels among staff while keeping in mind what all staff members do in their daily work and how they do it. A wellness program adds value to an organization.

The Wellness program will offer stress management classes, nutrition classes, and an exercise and fitness program. According to best practices literature, there are benefits and values to BWC having a wellness program and there is an inherent relationship between healthy employees and the related effects on retaining employees, reducing healthcare costs, decreasing rates of illness and injuries, reducing employee absenteeism, and improving employee morale. A worksite wellness program for employees includes the following benefits: improved physical fitness, increased stamina, lower levels of stress, increased well-being, self-image, and self-esteem. It is the agency’s goal that as the program progresses, some of the activities introduced through the wellness program will be available to clients as well as staff. Furthermore, there is the expectation that there will be opportunities to partner with primary healthcare providers will better address the broad health needs of the agency clients.

The methods used included health risk assessment (HRA) surveys and focus groups questionnaires. The survey and focus groups results yielded the following shared interest: 1) stress management, 2) nutrition, 3) financial planning, and 4) compassion fatigue debriefing, work/ life balance followed by interests in 5) self-care and in parenting classes. It is recommendation that BWC continues to develop the wellness program for staff which can be later translatable to its clients. By ensuring staff are content in their jobs and are working at their most productive level, BWC will ensure the highest level of services for its clients.