January 13, 2020

Cascadia’s Wellness Program Provides Opportunities for Improved Health and Community Connection

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s Wellness Program was introduced in mid-2019 and provides opportunities for community members to improve their health and achieve wellness in all areas of life. The Wellness Program supports Cascadia’s vision to create a community where everyone experiences well-being, and has a self-directed, connected life.

Cascadia’s Wellness Program serves Cascadia clients as well as the greater Portland community — which is why the activities are always free and open to all. The program also serves as a way to connect individuals from all backgrounds, helps break stigma around mental illness, and provides an easy, accessible way for anyone to improve their mental health and wellness.

Jennifer Wilcox, Director of Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, champions the Wellness Program and dedicates her time to helping people get the skills and supports they need to be well. Over the course of her career, Wilcox has seen both the clinical and societal perceptions of wellness change, and uses her knowledge of wellness to create effective, community-centered programming.

“We’re so much more aware, now, of how the mind and body work together,” said Wilcox. “We know that there are different dimensions of wellness and how it’s important to pay attention to all of them. Cascadia keeps this top of mind when creating our wellness initiatives.”

In fact, Cascadia’s program is based off of SAMHSA’a eight dimensions of wellness. These eight dimensions – Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social, Environmental, Financial, Vocational, and Spiritual – look holistically at all the areas of our lives, and help individuals better understand their needs and emotions as it relates to these areas.

“In looking at all the dimensions there may be some that you feel like you are doing great in, and there may be some that you feel like you haven’t focused on,” said Wilcox. “Pick one of those and think of one small thing that you can do in that area. And starting small is totally okay.”

Based out of the Garlington Health Center, there are variety of regularly scheduled wellness offerings:

Wilcox is always looking for new ways to help individuals improve their wellness. New activities are added to the Wellness Program’s rotation based on community need and interest, and existing programming is changed and updated to ensure the best results for participants.

“In our approach to wellness, we focus on helping individuals develop the skills and supports they need to be successful in the environments of their choice,” said Wilcox. “Wellness to me is helping the individuals we serve move from being ‘stuck’ to thriving.”

Making wellness a priority is proven to have positive effects on many aspects of our health. Individuals involved in Cascadia’s Wellness Programs report feeling more connected to others, a decrease in depression, as well as improved management of diabetes and other chronic conditions.

However, making wellness a priority can be a challenge. Additionally, the concept of wellness is very different for every individual, so it may be difficult to identify your personal wellness needs. “We have so much coming at us from so many directions,” said Wilcox. “I think it is about taking a minute to breathe sometimes, and thinking of one thing that we can do to center ourselves or take one small step toward a goal.”

The Wellness Program is a key piece of Cascadia’s whole healthcare mission. “Whole healthcare is important to everyone, not just our clients. Part of whole healthcare is creating community wellness – and that is what the Wellness Program is all about,” said Wilcox.

To learn more about Cascadia’s Wellness Program and how you can get involved, visit: https://cascadiabhc.org/services/wellness-program/.