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Culture Change:

Creating and Sustaining a Wellness Culture

Peggy Swarbrick Ph.D., FAOTA, Research Professor, Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology and Associate Director of the Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies; Director, Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey Wellness Institute

Creating and sustaining a wellness culture within integrated healthcare settings where peer support specialists are a member of the team requires proactive efforts from supervisors and organizational leadership. The following are some specific things organizational leaders and supervisors can do or what they can advocate for to create and sustain a workplace wellness culture for the entire workforce including peer support specialists. 

Commitment to a Shared Mission Focused on Staff Wellness:

  • Clearly articulate the organization’s commitment to staff wellness as a core value.
  • Integrate staff wellness goals into the overall mission and vision of the organization.
  • Lead by example, demonstrating a personal commitment to wellness.

Addressing All Eight Dimensions of Wellness:

  • Ensure that wellness initiatives address physical, emotional, social, intellectual, occupational, environmental, financial, and spiritual dimensions.
  • Offer a variety of resources and programs that cater to different aspects of wellness based on individual and group needs.
  • Take the pulse of needs often and encourage staff to help plan activities that are tailored to cultural needs and preferences.

Assessment of Wellness Culture:

  • Regularly evaluate the health and well-being of staff through surveys, assessments, and feedback mechanisms.
  • Assess how wellness is promoted for the people served by the organization.
  • Review the range of wellness services and supports offered to staff.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of wellness initiatives and adjust as needed.

Openness to Change (Learning Organization):

  • Foster an environment where continuous learning and improvement are encouraged.
  • Provide opportunities for staff to give feedback and contribute to shaping wellness initiatives.
  • Embrace innovation and adaptability in addressing staff wellness needs.

Investment in Individuals – Staff Wellness:

  • Allocate resources for wellness programs, training, and initiatives.
  • Provide access to mental health services, counseling, and other wellness resources.
  • Support professional development opportunities that prioritize staff well-being.

Respect for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity:

  • Ensure that wellness initiatives are inclusive and accessible to all staff, regardless of background or identity.
  • Create a safe and supportive environment where individuals feel valued and respected.
  • Address systemic barriers to wellness, such as discrimination or unequal access to resources.

Peer Support for Staff:

  • Define peer support programs that provide opportunities for staff to connect, share experiences, and offer mutual support.
  • Foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork where colleagues can lean on each other during challenging times.
  • Provide training and resources for staff members who serve as peer supporters or mentors.

By prioritizing these elements, supervisors can create a supportive and holistic wellness culture that not only enhances the wellness of peer support specialists and the overall behavioral health workforce but also contributes to the overall success of the organization.