In the News

August 16, 2018

Cascade Awarded as #4 Healthiest Employers in Oregon, size 2 – 99

Cascade Centers’ wellness program encourages healthy behaviors, promotes social engagement, and inspires employees to give back to the local community. The wellness program targets four main components of health, which include mental health (stress management, assessments with customized recommendations, massages), physical health (biometric screenings, standing desks), social health (staff night out, e.g. Paint Nite, nature hikes), and community health (clothing drives, volunteer events).

Employees are encouraged to participate in all activities and are provided paid work hours to engage in wellness program events. Cascade’s wellness committee polls staff annually, and chooses activities for all skill and ability levels to eliminate any additional barriers of access.

The Wellness Committee is comprised of members who are experts in their field, knowledgeable of employer and employee needs, and have educational backgrounds and certifications in mental health and health coaching. They meet on a bi-monthly basis to evaluate participation, including what has gone well and to recognize where future improvements can be made.

Cascade Centers’ robust employee wellness offering reflects their dedication to improve health, reduce stigma related to mental health, and promote holistic approaches to wellness.

One unique component of Cascade Centers’ wellness program is that we use the wellness services we provide for our industry clients. We want to understand the ins and outs of our wellness platform and services, along with knowing how to motivate and encourage others to use them and do so as well. Our goal is to “practice what we preach” – to get and be well together!


March 22, 2018

Cascade Centers Partners with Psyinnovations to Provide Digital Mental Health Solutions

PsyInnovations, the developer of the mental and behavioral health platform, wayForward, has announced a multi-year partnership with Cascade Centers, Inc., a Portland, Oregon based EAP that aims to improve employee wellbeing and health. Cascade Centers will use PsyInnovations’ wayForward platform as a core part of their Employee Assistance Program’s (EAP) offering to employers. This partnership will allow Cascade Centers to be a “Digital EAP”, supporting employee wellness with digital assessments, evidence-based therapeutic tools, and a coaching platform that are made available instantly via apps and web.

“At PsyInnovations, our mission is to make behavioral healthcare accessible to everyone, globally. We believe in working in partnership with behavioral health and emotional wellness organizations such as EAPs, to provide proven, scalable, cost-effective digital solutions for reducing the incidence and severity emotional problems such as stress, anxiety and depression,” said PsyInnovations CEO, Ritvik Singh.

“Our Whole Life Scale is an effective tool to screen for several mental and behavioral health conditions and now we have PsyInnovations’ digital solution. This allows employees to get high quality services such as interactive content and expert coaches on their fingertips. This is an important addition, as an increasing portion of the workforce wants digital tools in their everyday life,” said Anthony Brown, VP Marketing and Sales at Cascade Centers. “Also, the data analytics helps us serve our client organizations better.”

The platform will cover all aspects of mental health and wellness from assessment to self-use programs based on CBT and mindfulness to coaches and experts. PsyInnovations will incorporate the WholeLife Scale, Cascade Center’s proprietary assessment that screens individuals for 9 domains such as stress, anxiety, anger, sleep and more. Data analytics are also included to help optimize the program’s effectiveness and provide customized offerings.

PsyInnovations, based in New York, is comprised of a team of leading researchers, clinicians and behavioral health experts associated with Columbia University, University of Michigan, Yeshiva University, UC San Diego, and a nationwide team of licensed behavioral health providers who also serve as health coaches. It comprises of a global setup, serving more than half a million individuals in over a dozen countries.

The goal of the partnership is to improve employee health and emotional wellness, while aiming to decrease absenteeism, increase productivity and employee engagement.

About PsyInnovations

New York, NY- based PsyInnovations is a digital behavioral health company with the mission of delivering evidence based programs and expert care using technology. Their flagship platform, wayForward ( ) delivers programs based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness and Positive Psychology, developed by its team of expert researchers and clinicians.

About Cascade Centers, Inc.

Cascade Centers, Inc. is a private firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Since 1975, Cascade has set out to decrease employee related expenses and improve quality of life. They provide comprehensive and leading edge services to organizations and individuals nationwide, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Work/Life Balance Services, Wellness Programs, Onsite Health Screenings, Organizational Development, Student Assistance Programs, Military Helpline, and Executive Coaching.


November 6, 2017

From the Portland Business Journal:

Small Business Innovation Awards_PBJ

A Proactive Mental Health Tool

For nearly 40 years, Portland-based Cascade Centers Inc. has built a successful business providing counseling, a crisis line, work-life balance programs and health and wellness coaching for employer groups.

Its Employee Assistance Programs that have been shown to improve absenteeism, reduce distraction at work and boost life satisfaction.

But these services have always functioned in a reactive mode, especially given the stigma around mental health issues, and Cascade’s leaders realized they needed to get out in front of problems before they start.

“We can promote the program but we have to sit back and wait for them to call us,” said Julie Marshall, Cascade’s vice president of clinical and operational services. “We wanted to develop a way to be more preventive and proactive and reach out to people who wouldn’t have called and provide an intervention.”

The result of that thought process rolled out earlier this year. The WholeLife Scale integrates mental health into workplace wellness campaigns and gives employers a snapshot of the state of mental health in their workplace.

“We’d be in meetings where the HR people would talk about their short-term disability and drug spend and say, ‘You need to help us,’” said Anthony Brown, Cascade’s vice president for sales and marketing. “We had traditional solutions but wanted to bring something more robust.”

Cascade partnered with a University of Oregon psychologist to develop the WholeLife Scale questionnaire, which it piloted with state employees.

Here’s how it works. Employees answer a series of questions covering nine mental health “domains”: anger, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, relationships, sleep, stress, substance abuse and work engagement. For example, one question asks how often over the past month you’ve thought you should cut down on drinking or drug use.

The evaluation takes about 10 minutes. Afterward, you get a report around the scores and recommended next steps, along with encouragement to take advantage of the employer's Employee Assistance Program.

Cascade, which is the 25th largest EAP provider in the U.S., recently presented the tool at an international conference. The feedback was positive, Marshall said.

“What’s happening is employers are starting to realize there was a big wave of physical wellness, and everyone jumped on that and had high hopes for reducing costs, and they didn’t reach that,” she said. “A big missing piece was behavioral health.”

Cascade is both marketing the scale on its own and pairing it with its existing EAP programs. The company may also license it to various organizations.

The company was founded by Brown’s parents, Gale Castillo and Jerry Brown, in 1975. Cascade’s Employee Assistance Program is now used by 360 organizations nationwide, encompassing 217,000 employees. The State of Oregon, City of Portland, Beaverton School District, New Seasons and McMenamins are among Cascade’s clients.

Castillo said Cascade has always tried to anticipate new needs and trends in the industry.

“Between all of us, we put our heads together and brainstormed about what the need has been and currently is and built on our past legacy,” Castillo said.

The company: Cascade Centers Inc.

What makes it innovative: A longtime provider of Employee Assistance Programs, Cascade this year rolled out a new product called WholeLife Scale to measure and provide immediate feedback about mental health issues.

Headquarters: Portland

Top executive: Jerry Brown, CEO

Learn more:

Elizabeth Hayes
Staff Reporter
Portland Business Journal


October, 2016

NW Human Resource Association Article

Expanded Focus on Mental Health Bolsters Workplace Wellness
By Anna Meiners, MA, Senior Account Manager and Wellness Consultant

There is a direct link between job performance and employee health. To improve employee health and enhance productivity, many employers have focused on health risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and tobacco use. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that wellness goes beyond physical fitness and good nutrition. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. are coping with mental health issues; this does not include substance abuse. The need to address employee wellness holistically has never been so important.

Mental health issues have a long history of being stigmatized and largely ignored within the workplace, yet issues related to poor mental health, such as accidents, health care costs, absenteeism, and lost productivity are well documented. It’s estimated that mental illness and substance abuse cost employers, in indirect costs, $80 to $100 billion each year. Work loss and work impairment is more due to mental illness than chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and arthritis. Work stress alone has been associated with significantly higher health care expenses. To have a truly well workforce, employers need resources and strategies available to help employees who are struggling. This is often the role of an employee assistance program (EAP).

An EAP generally offers confidential assessment, short-term counseling, and referrals. EAP consultants also support managers in addressing employee performance issues, concerns about safety, and on-site services following crises. These interventions are important, but typically engage employees after a problem has occurred. Recognizing this need, the
International Employee Assistance Professionals Association has put an increased focus on proactive intervention to keep people healthy. This has led EAPs to increase focus on work-life balance, offerings of life coaching, financial wellness programs, training in emotional first aid, health engagement tools and campaigns aimed at reducing the stigma of mental illness. Healthcare providers across professions are now working together to promote the message – mental health is physical health.

Employers who incorporate behavioral health into their overall wellness strategy see the value of making assessment and intervention available. One study demonstrated a 7:1 return on investment by conducting a depression screening program. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also identified that the first step in dealing with excessive work stress - one of the leading causes of mental and physical health problems - is problem identification.

Traditionally, learning about one’s state of mental health would require taking multiple time consuming assessments. EAP industry experts recognized the need for a more comprehensive and accessible option to circumvent the high cost of mental health concerns in the workplace. In response, a Behavioral Health Risk Assessment (BHRA) has been developed.

Implementation of the BHRA is similar to a traditional Health Risk Assessment. Employers provide incentives and have access to aggregate reports from the BHRA, while helping employees increase individual mental health awareness.

Increased focus on behavioral health also improves overall wellness. Research shows a high co-occurrence between diabetes, depression, obesity, hypertension, and stress. Medical professionals are finding that this is not a one-way street. For example, it was previously believed that mental health issues led to gastrointestinal distress, but findings now show it may be the other way around. This illustrates that the value of a traditional approach to employee wellness should not be diminished. There is high value in biometric screenings, nutrition services, emphasis on physical fitness, and tobacco cessation. However, it is increasingly clear that employers who take an integrated approach to wellness are likely to maximize improved health outcomes, lower health risks, and decrease health care costs.

For additional information about Integrated Wellness and Behavioral Health Services, contact Anthony Brown at Cascade Centers, Inc. 800-433-2320;

Since 1975, Cascade has set out to decrease employee related expenses and improve quality of life. They provide comprehensive and leading edge services to organizations and individuals nationwide, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Work/Life Balance Services, Wellness Programs, Onsite Health Screenings, Organizational Development, Student Assistance Programs, Military Helpline, and Executive Coaching. 

An Employer’s Guide to Behavioral Health Services, National Business Group on Health, December 2005.
Abbott Targets Depression Among Employees; Reduces Total Medical Costs, Mental HealthWorks; 4th qtr - 2003. recognized the need for a more comprehensive and accessible option
An Employer’s Guide to Behavioral Health Services, National Business Group on Health, December 2005.
Abbott Targets Depression Among Employees; Reduces Total Medical Costs, Mental HealthWorks; 4th qtr - 2003.


September 15, 2016

Cascade Centers, Inc. to Use hubbub Wellness Platform as Key Tool in EAP Program
Thousands of employees gain access to health and wellness resources available in the hubbub platform

Portland, OR - hubbub health, an online and mobile wellness platform, and Cascade Centers, Inc., a company committed to supporting families with drug abuse and other health-related challenges, are working together to use technology and innovation to help thousands of Cascade’s client workforce develop healthy habits in and outside of the workplace, leading to improved productivity. This new collaboration will enable Cascade Centers to leverage hubbub’s expert wellness content and platform to give employees of Cascade’s clients access to challenges and an online social community to embark on the path towards achieving a healthy lifestyle.

“Hubbub’s nationwide customer base has benefited from making health care less of a chore, and more a part of an employee’s everyday lifestyle,” said hubbub Chief Executive Officer Beth Andersen. “Wellness doesn’t start at 9 or end at 5 and we’re looking forward to growing our partnership with Cascade Centers to make wellness fun for their client base through challenges and the support of an online community.”

The hubbub platform uses technology and innovation to change behaviors and workplace environments to promote a healthy lifestyle among employees. Hubbub offers employees a variety of programs and challenges that help them achieve their health goals and develop healthy habits.
Thanks to this new endeavor,
Cascade Centers will offer their wellness solution to employees in multiple industries, including those working non-sedentary jobs, such as manufacturing or field-based work. Employers working with Cascade Centers also have the option of purchasing more health and wellness features from hubbub to further assist employees in achieving their wellness goals.

“Cascade Centers was looking for a partner that was a leader in the wellness industry and could continue to grow and evolve our clients’ wellness programs,” says Cascade Center’s Vice President Anthony Brown, “hubbub’s innovative mobile and online platform provides our clients with the tools they need to achieve their wellness goals.”

Hubbub is a corporate wellness technology company that offers an integrated platform of evidenced-based wellbeing solutions that drive meaningful healthy outcomes. Their software delivers engaging content that cultivates healthy habits at work and at home with focus on one’s physical, mental, emotional, and financial wellbeing. Hubbub’s technology, content and programs meet people where they’re at, positively influencing their daily habits and lifestyle. Hubbub believes that improved wellbeing translates to a healthier, happier and more productive workforce.

Cascade Centers, Inc. is a private firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Since 1975, Cascade has set out to decrease employee related expenses and improve quality of life. They provide comprehensive and leading edge services to organizations and individuals nationwide, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Work/Life Balance Services, Wellness Programs, Onsite Health Screenings, Organizational Development, Student Assistance Programs, Military Helpline, and Executive Coaching.

For additional information about Cascade and its Wellness Services, contact Anthony Brown at:

Anthony Brown

For additional information about hubbub contact Christine Lynch at:
Christine Lynch
Strategic Communications Officer
Cambia Health Solutions


March 17, 2015

Cascade Centers, Inc. Demonstrates Measurable Outcomes due to Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Intervention, including 44% Improvement in Absenteeism

Historically, the Employee Assistance field has measured the effectiveness of services by reporting on basic metrics, such as employee utilization and employee satisfaction. While allowing employers to capitalize on a “feel good” element by providing a benefit employees appreciate, the metrics have not fully illustrated the positive impact of offering an EAP.

In 2013, Cascade Centers, Inc. began to implement the Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS) to help their customers better evaluate whether EAP intervention had an impact on workplace performance. The WOS, a validated and scientific measurement tool, is designed to measure change in areas which relate directly to an employee’s work performance.

In the 2014 study conducted by Cascade using the WOS, data was collected both Pre and Post EAP intervention (approximately 90 days later) on a random sample of 1302 employees to make up a book of business report. The results demonstrated an average reduction in worker absenteeism of 44% (3.5 hours/ month). There was also statistically significant improvement in the presenteeism (23%) and life satisfaction (17%).

Analyses of outcomes performance in the future will allow EAPs to compare their data to other EAPs. This comparative data will be made available to purchasers and organizational stakeholders to use as a factor for making decisions about their EAP partner, and supporting the continued investment in EAPs.

Cascade Centers, Inc. was founded in 1975 and is headquartered at 7180 SW Fir Loop, Portland, OR 97223. Cascade Centers, Inc. is a privately held firm that provides a variety of services locally and nationally to public and private organizations including: Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Work/Life Services, Student Assistance Programs, Wellness Programs, Organizational Development, Military Helpline, and Executive Coaching.

For additional information about Cascade or the Workplace Outcomes Suite, contact Anthony Brown at:


May 24, 2012

Cascade Centers, Inc. Receives National Accreditation

PORTLAND, OR. – Cascade Centers, Inc. (Cascade) was recently accredited by the American Association of Suicidology (AAS). The AAS is a national leader in the advancement of scientific and programmatic efforts in suicide prevention through research, education, training, development of standards and resources, and through survivor support services. Cascade Centers, Inc. is one of three organizations in Oregon that has been accredited by AAS. Cascade is the only Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in the nation to be accredited by the AAS. The accreditation is the result of a rigorous review of Cascade's crisis services and procedures and certifies that Cascade's service delivery methods meet nationally recognized standards.

Joan Wright, Director of Crisis Services Accreditation & Certification Programs with the AAS said “Cascade has done an excellent job of assuring that their crisis service does not take a back seat to their other services. They have an excellent service as a result of a well–organized training program for their new employees”.

The accreditation process included a review of Cascade's written documents and an onsite review to evaluate Cascade's organizational structure, screening and training of crisis workers, service delivery system, ethical standards and practice, community integration, and program evaluation. Customers and clients served by Cascade can be assured that Cascade delivers crisis services at the highest standards utilizing best practices.

Founded in 1975, Cascade Centers, Inc. is a privately held firm that provides a variety of services locally and nationally to public and private organizations including: Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Work/Life Services, Wellness Programs, Organizational Development, a Military Helpline, and Executive Coaching.

For additional information about Cascade or their services contact Anthony Brown at:


January 27, 2012

Cascade Centers, Inc. Announces an Additional Owner

PORTLAND, OR. – Cascade Centers, Inc. (Cascade) recently announced Julie Marshall, Ph.D., as a new stockholder of the firm. Dr. Marshall is the current Vice President of Clinical Operations. Dr. Marshall has been with Cascade for over 14 years. Dr. Marshall received a Master of Arts at Ball State University in Indiana and received her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Oklahoma. She is currently a Licensed Psychologist in the State of Oregon. Her 14 years in the mental health field includes consultation and program development, clinical supervision and direct clinical services to adults, children and families. She practiced in community and state agencies prior to joining Cascade Centers, Employee Assistance Program in 1998.

Jerry Brown, Cascade's founder and CEO says: “Julie has been an important part of Cascade's management team. She has demonstrated leadership and integrity. She has taken on major projects, overseen the implementation of expanded services for all accounts and contributed to the growth and development of the company.”

Current owners include Gale Castillo, M.A., President; Gerald F. (Jerry) Brown, M.A., CEO; and Anthony Brown, Vice President, Marketing & Sales. Founded in 1975, Cascade Centers, Inc. is a privately held firm that provides a variety of services locally and nationally to public and private organizations including: Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Work/Life Services, Wellness Programs, Organizational Development, Military Helpline, and Executive Coaching.

For additional information about Cascade or their services contact Anthony Brown.

November 2, 2011

Cascade Centers, Inc. Awarded Oregon Military Assistance Helpline

PORTLAND, OR. – Cascade Centers, Inc. was recently awarded a contract with the Oregon National Guard to provide Oregon veterans, service members, and their families with 24/7/365 resources to address crisis intervention, personal concerns, and other issues facing military families through a new helpline called the Oregon Military Assistance Helpline (ORMAH). ORMAH offers free confidential service to all Oregon Veterans, Oregon National Guard Service Members and their family members. The program can be accessed by calling 1–800–511–6944 or by going online at

Since September 11, 2001, more than 13,000 Soldiers of the Oregon Army National Guard have participated in deployments, taking them away from their families, employers and communities. Many of these families have dealt with multiple deployments, some as many as five or more times. As the toll of deployment mounts, service members and their family members face numerous problems such as financial strain, marital conflict, substance abuse, loss of a loved one, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, homelessness, Traumatic Brain Injury, mental illness and thoughts of suicide. Air Force General Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, discussed these stressors at a Senate hearing:

“The stresses, the strains, the financial difficulties, the times we live in, the stress on the family, the fact that we've had continuous rotations, obviously have created an environment where many of our young soldiers and airmen struggle, … ” McKinley said. “Our deploying soldiers and airmen are facing challenges that none of us … certainly ever did in our military careers.”

When help is needed, service members can call 1–800–511–6944 and get a live voice at any time. The Helpline is staffed by Veterans and Masters level counselors ready to provide crisis / suicide intervention and comprehensive services that assess, identify, and link the service member or family member with the most appropriate resource. While there are many excellent resources available to service members, understanding which are applicable and how to access services can be confusing and daunting, particularly as a service member is reintegrating and potentially facing unprecedented stressors. Members need a “resource expert” to help them navigate the myriad of services available to them, both military and civilian. That is what Oregon Military Assistance Helpline provides.

The Oregon Military Assistance Helpline is a service provided by Cascade Centers Inc. (Cascade). Cascade is a private firm, founded in 1975 and is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Cascade's mission is to provide comprehensive and leading edge services to organizations and individuals through Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), 24 hour crisis intervention, face–to–face counseling, work / life balance services, wellness programs, education, training, and resource referrals. Cascade provides full service programs with a focus on customer service and building partnerships.

For additional information about the Oregon Military Assistance program or Cascade Centers, Inc. contact Anthony Brown.


June 17, 2009

Employers Save $10.5 Million in Employee Costs

PORTLAND, OR. – Cascade Centers, Inc., Employee Assistance Program, (Cascade EAP) announced today that, in 2008, employers under contract with Cascade EAP realized a 4:1 Return on Investment (ROI).

Cascade EAP provides a variety of counseling, assessment, and work/family/life services in response to employee concerns that may impact productivity on the job such as life stress, family problems, relationship difficulties, financial challenges, parenting, work conflict, and other issues.

Cascade EAP extracts data from evidence–based studies on lost productivity due to personal issues to calculate each group's Return on Investment (ROI). Sources include the US Department of Labor, Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Disease Control Priorities Project. These statistics are applied to each employer groups' presenting problems and the savings data is available to the employer each month in a detailed utilization report.

David Burn, a licensed mental health counselor and Cascade's Senior EAP Consultant, notes that “sixty–eight percent (68%) of all clients resolve their presenting concerns using Cascade's EAP services, with no need to access ongoing medical or mental health services.” As healthcare costs escalate, EAP plays a key role in increasing employee productivity, reducing absenteeism, managing the costs associated with health care coverage, and reducing out–of–pocket expenses for medical and mental health services.

Burn reports “Seventy percent (70%) of all healthcare costs go toward preventable illnesses. Employers have a need to know that a well–utilized EAP pays for itself many times over by reducing healthcare expenditures –– for the employer as well as for employee families.”

Cascade Centers, Inc. is a privately held national firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1975, Cascade Centers provides a variety of services to public and private organizations including: Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Work/Life Services, Wellness Programs, Organizational Development, and Executive Coaching.

For additional information about Cascade's ROI formula, about Wellness services as part of an EAP, or about Employee Assistance services in general, contact Anthony Brown, Vice President at:


FEBRUARY 13, 2008

Cascade Centers, Inc. Introduces E–Support – An Online Employee Assistance Service

PORTLAND, OR – Cascade Centers, Inc. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Cascade Centers, Inc. now offers its members live online virtual sessions with an EAP Consultant to provide assistance with problem resolution and answer questions. Cascade's newest service, called E–Support, allows users to correspond with their online EAP Consultant through a secure website in a Private Conference Area. All chat accounts are protected by usernames and passwords.

“Many of our members and their families lead high paced lives resulting from a combination of work, relationships, family obligations, and personal activities, so finding time to connect with an EAP Consultant is challenging,” said Julie Marshall, Vice President of Clinical Operation for Cascade. “We developed E–Support as a means for busy clients to continually utilize the Employee Assistance Program with convenience and privacy.”

Flexible scheduling, anonymity, easier communication, confidentiality, resolution to problems, and review of progress are key advantages of E–Support. Members receive these benefits without having to leave their home or office for an appointment. It is completely professional and confidential. Consultants are trained to conduct sessions in a solution focused format. Each member is able to review progress through a transcript of each session and members have indicated they appreciate having the suggestions available to print for use months later.

Cascade uses the latest tools of technology to establish and maintain the confidentiality of information exchanged through online conference services. Data is protected at the highest allowable level using secure 128 bit socket lay (SSL) encryption software to keep communication completely secure.

Cascade Centers, Inc. is a family owned, Oregon business, co–owned by Gale Castillo, M.A., and Gerald F. (Jerry) Brown, M.A. Founded in 1975, Cascade Centers provides a variety of services locally and nationally to public and private organizations including: Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Work/Life Services, Wellness Programs, Organizational Development, Workshops, Seminars, and Group and Individual Counseling.

For additional information about Cascade's Employee Assistance services contact:
Anthony Brown


Employee Benefit News Article

Mending Mind & Body: EAP Services Expand to Address Employee Physical Health
By: Kelley M. Butler

Since they were introduced in the 1970s as a way to aid employees dealing with alcoholism and substance abuse, employee assistance programs have traversed a speedy evolutionary path. Now well known for offering the entire gamut of services – including resources for stress management, depression, family and marital issues, legal problems, financial planning, child and elder care and even religious issues – EAPs still have primarily dealt with tending to mind and spirit.

The programs are changing yet again, however, and now encompass services to help employees care for their physical health and wellness.
For his part, Richard Chaifetz, CEO of Chicago–based EAP provider ComPsych, considers the shift a natural one.

”How you view the changes depends on how you define yourself as an EAP,” he says. ”Our mission is to help employers increase the productivity and performance of their employees. If that's your mission, then traditional EAP services only cover a very small piece. It's much larger.”

All–Around Wellness
Research has long shown that people with chronic health problems are more likely to suffer from depression, and vice versa. To Anthony Brown, vice president of sales and marketing for Portland, Ore.–based Cascade Centers Inc., it stands to reason a comprehensive EAP should be able to help employees deal with both the physical and the emotional. Cascade recently began providing a health and wellness program as part of its EAP services.

”We love being able to offer it. It's nice for our intake coordinators to be able to talk to someone who's called us for help with stress, but if we figure out they have poor nutrition and don't exercise, we can help with all of those things,” says Brown. ”We can sign them up for face–to–face [counseling] sessions and for a session with a health coach as well.”

The new program, Cascade Personal Wellness, includes unlimited access to health coaches, an online members–only Web site, health risk assessments, discounts for gym memberships, tip sheets, books and monthly wellness newsletters. Members can access the program for help with weight management, smoking cessation, fitness and exercise, and prenatal and postnatal care.

”We are very excited to offer [the program] as a core service to our members,” Brown says. ”Not only will it help members lead a healthier lifestyle, it will be an additional resource for employers to help reduce employee–related expenses, and increase utilization of other EAP services. It's a natural flow of where EAPs are going and makes perfect sense for us.”

With the program still so new, Cascade has no hard ROI numbers to report yet. However, Brown says, ”we've already been lowering absences and health costs, and this is a new way to do it.”

EAP Consultants also is getting a positive reaction to its health care coaching service, which has been available for the last year.

”Integrating wellness with EAP ultimately makes for a more successful outcome,” says Sandy Rosenberg, the firm's executive director for EAP services. ”I think a lot of times employers don't make the connection right away, but once they do, they say, Oh yes, obviously!' It shows that EAPs are really evolving.”

ComPsych offers similar services through its Healthy Guidance initiative, providing guidance, encouragement and information to employees through health tests, literature, online information and health coaching. The program includes health risk assessments, wellness seminars and also added employer support through supervisor training.

”It works hand in hand with disease management in dealing with co–morbid states of illness – like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression,” Chaifetz says. ”We help employers find these cases and go into a more in–depth, targeted intervention strategy.”

A CDH Breakthrough ComPsych also is breaking new ground in the EAP–health care space this year with its HealthChampion program, an employee health advocacy program designed to help individuals navigate the health care system.

Staffed by health care experts, Chaifetz says, ”HealthChampion provides information and resources to help people look at their prescription, medical care and health plan choices to meet their medical and financial needs. With the growth in consumer–driven health plans and HSAs, people are being forced to make more independent health care decisions.”

Indeed, in a nationwide survey of 434 employers, Aon Consulting and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists found that 28% currently offer a CDHP to their employees, up from 22% in 2005.

Additionally, the use of health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts have evolved. Today, 43% of organizations with CDHPs offer an HRA, 48% offer an HSA and 10% offer both.

Educating employees on successfully using such plans still is a sticking point, which is where Chaifetz believes ComPsych can lend a hand.

”We work cooperatively with health plans, and the beauty of HealthChampion is that [our advisors] are independent and nonbiased,” Chaifetz says. ”We have no interest in employees selecting one type of plan over another, which is a big plus for users.”

Ironically, though, according to Chaifetz, ”most employers [using HealthChampion] don't have a CDHP. They're either thinking about it, or they just think the program is a valuable resource” to aid consumers.

Either way, it's all part of the job for an EAP, says Chaifetz. ”We want to help people address the full array of issues that confront them so they can lead healthy and balanced lives. Wellness is another area that we know employees struggle with, and so we want to help.” – K.M.B.


JUNE 20, 2006

Cascade Centers, Inc offers a preventative health and wellness program as part of their core Employee Assistance Program.

Portland, OR – Starting July 1, 2006, Cascade Centers, Inc. will be the only Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in the nation offering its members unlimited phone and e–mail access to personal health coaches as a core component of the EAP.

Currently, EAPs are best known for contributing to cost savings associated with lost productivity and absences by addressing issues such as depression, substance abuse, and mental/emotional problems. Research shows that mental health and physical health are often interrelated. By including this service, Cascade has created a holistic EAP.

“We are very excited to be able to offer personal health coaching as a core service to our members” said Anthony Brown, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Cascade. “Not only will it help members lead a healthier lifestyle, it will be an additional resource for our employer groups to help reduce employee related expenses, and increase utilization of other EAP services.”

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, it is estimated that up to 75% of all health care dollars are spent on chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease – most of which can be prevented or at least managed. Studies conducted by “Wellness Program Advisor” suggest that Wellness Programs in the work place have been found to reduce company health care costs, improve employee morale, and increase productivity on many levels.

The new program, entitled Cascade Personal Wellness, includes unlimited access to a health coach, online members only website, Health Risk Assessments, discounts to gym memberships, tip sheets, books, monthly wellness related newsletters, and more. Members can access Cascade Personal Wellness for Weight Management, Smoking Cessation, Fitness and Exercise, Prenatal and Postnatal care, Complementary Care, and Health Self Management.

Cascade has been providing EAPs since 1979 and is one of the nations largest privately held EAPs. Cascade's addition of a Wellness Program to their core EAP suggests that EAPs are continuing to evolve as an all encompassing life assistance benefit. The Wellness Program will be another resource to impact modifiable health claims through lifestyle change.

For additional information about Cascade's wellness program as part of their EAP services, or as a stand alone, contact Anthony Brown.

Contact: Anthony Brown
Cascade Centers, Inc