App could help city workers in face of rising mental health claims | Casper

As demand for mental health services rises, Casper City employees will soon have a centralized app that can help them access care.

Workers’ compensation claims related to PTSD and mental health have increased among city employees in the last few years, after a state law passed in 2020 allowing first responders to file those kinds of claims.

In a few months, Casper is set to roll out three versions of an app — for fire, police and general employees — that aims to make it easier to access mental health treatment, look at options and connect workers to peer support groups made up of their coworkers.

In the six months of 2020 after the law went into effect, just one mental health claim was filed by a Casper employee. In 2021, that rose to five.

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So far in 2022, 10 city employees have filed mental health workers’ comp claims for treatment related to post-traumatic stress, according to Human Resources Manager Nicole Carlson.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing,” Carlson said, “because we want them to seek help.”

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There are already a few options for mental health services for those who work for the city. Employees and their family members can receive free professional counseling through the Three Trails Employee & Family Assistance Program.

Between January and July of this year, 34 employees and 20 family members used that service. That’s up slightly from that time frame last year, when 31 employees and 19 family members used it.

City workers can also get free counseling services at the Central Wyoming Counseling Center, or find a therapist through the city’s health insurance.

Most city employees seek mental health services for help with adult relationships or for general emotional and psychological concerns, Carlson said. Workers’ comp claims for mental health must be related to work incidents that affect an employee mentally.

The new app, Cordico, is set to be made available to city employees sometime in November, according to Carlson.

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The three versions of the app are being designed to incorporate custom Casper police, fire and general city imagery. Once the design is done, Carlson said, they’ll load the software with information and contacts for mental health providers in the area.

“One of the roadblocks we see is, there’s just so much information all over the place,” Carlson said. “When someone is in need of help, or are in crisis mode, they don’t necessarily have that mindset of, ‘Where’s that information?’”

Employees with the police and fire departments already have informal peer support groups, made up of coworkers who can listen and recommend mental health resources to those who need them.

“They’re talking a lot to each other, and trying to normalize having those conversations and asking for help,” Carlson said. “There are employees who had inpatient or outpatient help and are talking about it, encourage each other to also seek help.”

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Cordico is mainly used by first responders — the city became aware of it after a fire chief saw it at a conference — but Carlson said Casper wanted to make the service available to all employees.

While part-time workers will be able to access it, and can make workers’ comp claims if their mental health is affected while on the job, most of the services offered by the city are only available to full-time employees, according to Carlson .

The app will cost the city around $27,000 a year. That’s a 40% discount from its usual price, Carlson said, since Casper is one of the first cities in Wyoming to join.

All information that goes through the app, including what services an employee accesses, will remain confidential and can’t be seen by the city.


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