Document Type



Doctor of Nursing Practice



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dr. Susan Dean-Baar, Ph.D, RN, FAAN


Dr. Susan Dean-Baar, Ph.D, RN, FAAN

Dr. Sheila Grigsby, PhD, MPH, RN

Tamela Strayhorn, MS



Purpose: This program evaluation project evaluated the effectiveness of mental health training and support provided to wellness champions affiliated with a behavioral health organization. This project sought to gain a better understanding of how clergy and laypersons acting as wellness champions in predominately African-American faith-based organizations perceive they create an atmosphere to decrease stigma and increase mental health promotion and wellness when receiving education and training on mental health.

Methods: A descriptive project using a program evaluation design to evaluate the effectiveness of the training of 122 wellness champions from faith-based organizations received from a behavioral health organization from 2015-2019. Data was collected using an anonymous, online survey distributed to 122 wellness champions affiliated with a behavioral health organization. Eighteen participated in the survey, a follow-up interview was conducted with 8 wellness champions.

Results: Overall respondents evaluated the mental health training very positively with 8 of the 9 items being rated somewhat or strongly agree by 72.2-84.3% of the participants. Of the 9 knowledge, attitude and skills questions on the survey, seven had means ranging from 4.11-4.50. Two items had means below 4.0. The items below 4.0 focused on ability to identify congregants with substance additions and that the training changed perceptions that mental health problems are due to a lack of trust in God and a lack of strong faith. 82% of respondents had made a referral to a community connector since their training. The results from the study indicate that congregates trained in mental health increased their knowledge of behavioral health symptoms, confidence to connect with community connectors, and ability to enable referrals for access to care and treatment.

Implications for Practice: This program evaluation study reveals that the education and training provided by the behavioral health organization increased mental health literacy and was effective in preparing congregates to be effective in their role as a wellness champion. Future training should consider strengthening focus on substance addictions and exploring the beliefs about the role of trust in God and strong faith in contributing to mental health problems in the African-American faith based organizations.

Keywords: African American, church-based, faith-based organization, clergy, laypersons, faith leaders, mental health, wellness champions