Cascadia Behavioral Health Marks Mental Health Awareness Month

Cascadia’s Innovative Approach to Mental Health Draws National Attention

May 17, 2017

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. At Cascadia Behavioral Health, our focus on mental health never falters. Cascadia’s three Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers (CCBHC) are national models for an innovative approach to mental health that treats each patient holistically, leading to improved mental and physical health, lower catastrophic care costs, and reduced stigma surrounding mental health.

“At Cascadia, we know that mental and physical health go hand-in-hand,” says Kalindi Kapadia, Director of Cascadia’s Garlington Health Center. “When mental health is addressed as a facet of a person’s entire wellbeing, we more often see lasting improvements in that person’s ability to thrive.”

One in Five Americans Experiences Mental Health Issues

Each year, 61 million Americans or one in five will experience a mental health issue. Mental illness impacts lives in many ways.

“Mental health issues” is a broad term, encompassing situations as varied as depression, anxiety, addiction, schizophrenia, and eating disorders. Because of stigma, people experiencing mental health issues often hesitate to discuss it with their primary care providers, let alone family and friends. Mental Health Awareness month is an effort to overcome this reluctance so that mental health issues will lose their stigma and people will feel comfortable seeking the treatment that will benefit them.

Cascadia’s Innovative Program Addresses Mental Health as a Part of Overall Wellness

As of April 1, 2017, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is a Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC) as part of a national pilot program to measure the benefits of expanding the integration of mental, substance use and physical health care. This project places Oregon in the national spotlight for health care reform. Oregon was one of just eight states chosen to participate in the two–year program, and Cascadia’s three participating clinics are part of only 13 selected statewide.

CCBHCs operate under the principle that mental and physical health are inextricably linked, and that treating one without acknowledging the other is less effective than a holistic approach. For example, people who have chronic mental health issues often receive less primary care attention than the general population. When they do see a primary care provider, they may present in more advanced stages of physical illness. Integrated services improve healthcare delivery to this population and will allow people to live longer and healthier lives.

At Cascadia’s three CCBHC clinics in Multnomah County—the Garlington Center clinic (operating in a temporary location in NE Portland on NE 19th Ave, while the new clinic is under construction); the Plaza clinic in SE Portland; and the Woodland Park clinic at NE 102nd Ave—a client can access primary care, mental health services, substance use support, and wellness classes as needed. Recognizing that a stable home is fundamental to health and contributes to improved health outcomes, Cascadia staff include housing placement and support specialists that connect clients to a range of housing situations and solutions. Complementary programs offer care to address child and family services and needs, high-acuity mental health issues, gambling addiction to domestic abuse.

During our first 30 days of our CCBHC rollout, Cascadia enrolled 1,331 clients in primary care services (271 at Garlington, 518 at Plaza, and 552 at Woodland Park). To be enrolled in CCBHC, a community member must complete a health screen, a risk assessment, and provide baseline health measures, including body mass index and blood pressure. Depending on each person’s needs, a community member might be referred to a primary care provider, enrolled in a tobacco cessation program, helped to find housing, introduced to a mental health practitioner, or given access to health and wellness groups, for instance.

ABOUT CASCADIA BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE: Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is a private, not-for-profit whose mission is to provide healing, homes and hope for people living with mental health and addiction challenges. For information on Cascadia’s comprehensive range of innovative clinical and housing support programs, visit: