The Casper City Council discussed a new mental health service the city will offer all employees on Tuesday. (Screenshot via City of Casper, YouTube)

CASPER, Wyo. — The City of Casper will be offering some new wellness services in addition to what it already offers to help care for employee and volunteer mental health.

On Aug. 2, the Casper City Council authorized an agreement with Lexipol LLC for the city to access and utilize the Cordico Wellness App. On Tuesday, city staff talked to the City Council about how the new services will augment what the city already offers.

Services will be available to all employees, who will remain anonymous should they choose to utilize them, Nicole Carlson, manager with Casper’s Human Resources, said. The Cordico Wellness App is customizable and helps connect people with a variety of mental health services.

The city is configuring the app with unique elements for members of the Casper Police Department, members of the Casper Fire-EMS Department and general employees.

The Cordico Wellness App includes self-assessments, instructional videos and maps of available healthcare providers, and offers “on-demand, anonymous access to a variety of resources on topics including post-traumatic stress, nutrition, suicide prevention, family and marital support, depression, work–life balance, and many more,” a memo from city staff said.

While the city has seen a slight decrease in the last two years in the percentage of employees utilizing its Employee Assistance Program, there has been an increase in Workers’ Compensation claims filed by public safety employees for treatment related to post-traumatic stress, the memo added. Five such claims were filed in 2021 compared with nine in the first half of 2022.

In response to a question from City Councilmember Kyle Gamroth about any stigma around receiving mental health services among first responders, Carlson pointed to the increase in public safety officers seeking treatment related to post-traumatic stress as a positive indicator that employees may be feeling more comfortable seeking such assistance.

“Reducing the stigma is definitely the biggest thing to me,” Gamroth said, pointing to a 2019 survey done by the University of Phoenix that he said found nearly half of all first responders think they could face repercussions on the job if they seek counseling.

Carlson noted that both police and firefighters have their own peer support groups and the Police Department has additional services available such as specialized counselors. Human Resources will be encouraging employees to take advantage of any of the mental health services available to them if they need it, Carlson added.

Councilmember Steve Cathey asked whether the Cordico Wellness App services would be available to volunteers with the Casper Mountain Ski Patrol as they can sometimes encounter traumatic accidents.

“Those can shake you up for quite some time as well,” Cathey said.

Carlson said the app will be available to such volunteers. The city also offers counseling services to Ski Patrol volunteers, said Zulima Lopez, director of Casper Parks, Recreation & Public Facilities.

“We recognize that those critical volunteers come across some very traumatic instances and so we have, for several years, been offering them services through Central Wyoming Counseling Center, and this could potentially just be one more tool,” Lopez said.

Mayor Ray Pacheco said he thinks it is great that the city is adding another tool to help provide mental health services to employees and volunteers and said the annual $27,000 fee the city will pay for access to the Cordico Wellness App is worth it.

“$27,000 is a drop in the hat for the continued safety and mental health safety of our employees,” Pacheco said.