Date of Conferral



Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)




Frederica Hendricks-Noble


Individuals who seek mental health treatment in the United States face significant barriers. One such barrier is the belief that those seeking mental health treatment are subpar people with some moral failure. One area where this phenomenon exists is the behavioral healthcare workforce. This study was conducted to understand the phenomenon of stigma that behavioral healthcare leaders exhibit toward behavioral healthcare patients using the Baldrige framework as its conceptual framework. Using a qualitative approach and case study design, interviews were conducted with 6 leaders within a large healthcare system in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area to evaluate their understanding of stigma. Additionally, the study involved a review of historical data on patient experiences, employee engagement, and turnover rates within the system to gain a deeper understanding of the issue. This study used both manual and software transcription of data, followed by multi-level coding and triangulation, to establish themes concerning relationships between patient experience, staff engagement, and perceived stigmatization of behavioral healthcare patients. Recommendations from the study included: use of the lens of a peer-support model of care, include those with lived experience in governance position, ensure that person-centered language and methods are used, and integrate stigma reduction into process improvement. Focusing on the reduction of stigma within behavioral health will have a positive social impact on those seeking behavioral health services by making care more client-focused and sensitive to patient needs, thereby breaking down socially stigmatizing barriers to receiving and participating in treatment.