Stephanie L. Fox, Ph.D. is a 2023 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

stephanie fox's dissertation committee- donna ladkin, lize booysen, michelle pensec-salyers

Stephanie Fox at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Donna Ladkin, Committee Chair, Dr. Lize Booysen, Committee Member, Dr. Michelle Pensec-Salyers, Committee Member.

Dissertation Committee

  • Donna Ladkin, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Lize Booysen, DBL, Committee Member
  • Michelle Pensec-Salyers, Ph.D., Committee Member


burnout, employee engagement, healthcare, leadership, mental health, mental healthcare organizations, organizational health, work environment, quality of care

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Mental healthcare organizations have a reputation for being unhealthy places to work. The irony of this reputation is keenly felt by its workforce who report unsustainable workloads, high levels of stress, and lack of support or engagement from higher-level leadership. As a mental healthcare provider now in a position of leadership, who has worked across all levels of care within the sector, it was of interest to me to explore how a mental health organization can become a healthier and more sustainable place to work. I approached this study with the assumption that if an organization was healthy and intentional about health in its operation, this would be beneficial to the members of that organization, to the individuals whom the organization serves, and to the organization itself. This study endeavored to answer the question of how mental health organizations can become healthier places to work, considering both the factors that are within the control of mental healthcare organizations as well as those that are not. This study built on prior research by considering multiple factors identified in the research as functioning in relationship to each other. This is a development on previous research which has predominantly investigated aspects of work environment, mental healthcare worker experience, and patient care as siloed elements. Informed by the literature review, an Action Research study was developed and conducted. Study participants represented a cross-section of work experiences within mental healthcare organizations ranging from direct care providers to program directors and administrators. Participants engaged in discussion groups for the purpose of perspective sharing across experiences in order to collaboratively investigate the question of how mental health organizations could become healthier places to work. Key findings of the study were that practical solutions to improve the work environment are feasible and accessible, and not novel. The most important finding was the critical determinant of a healthy work environment is the willingness of organizational leaders to engage with and invest in their workforce. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (


stephanie fox

Stephanie L. Fox

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0001-9073-5614

Dr. Stephanie Fox is a licensed mental health counselor, substance use disorder professional, credentialed clinical supervisor, and registered yoga instructor. She also serves as an adjunct professor in addiction studies and substance use disorder treatment. Dr. Fox currently works as the director of operations for a mental health treatment facility, and previously served in direct care and clinical leadership positions in mental health and substance use disorder treatment programs. Dr. Fox holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Seattle Pacific University and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. During the second year of her graduate training Dr. Fox completed a 200-hour yoga instructor training with the intent to integrate aspects of the practice into her clinical work. Dr. Fox continues to research and develop integrative approaches to mental health treatment, provider and workplace development, improving mental healthcare systems, and leadership practice within the mental healthcare field.