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May is Mental Health Month

Brain gears

May 1st marks the beginning of Mental Health Month. It’s a fitting time for all mental health advocates to recommit ourselves to spreading awareness and education, and opening ourselves to our own further enlightenment on the subject.

A number of well-known organizations are celebrating the month with valuable information on their website and social media feeds. Here are just a few:

Mental Health America has a Mental Health Month Toolkit available for download on their website. Their theme this year is “Risky Business” which encourages people to be aware and mindful of habits and behaviors that may increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illness.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reminds us of the prevalence of mental health conditions, affecting 1 in 5 Americans, and how those conditions impact friends and family as well. Their #IntoMentalHealth campaign encourages discussion and advocacy for awareness and reduction of stigma and prejudice.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) urges us to #GetLoud as they celebrate Mental Health Week from May 1st through 8th. Going further than just reflecting on one’s mental health, CMHA encourages Canadians to demand the services, programs, and respect necessary to be well by getting loud and writing to members of parliament, speaking out on social media and in public, and donating time and money.

The National Council for Behavioral Health is promoting three key topics through infographics available on their website. These include Women’s Mental Health, Super Skills to Help a Friend, and a graphic that helps decipher whether a teen’s behavior may be part of their normal development or a warning sign of mental illness.

Undeniably one of the hottest topics in the field of mental health and suicide prevention right now is the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” which has generated some praise and a lot of criticism for its portrayal of teen suicide. While many argue that it’s doing a good thing by bringing the topic out into the open in such a huge way, others worry that its methods are unethical, that it discourages teens from seeking help from adults and professionals, and that it romanticizes suicide and presents it in a harmfully graphic way. School systems across North America have sent home letters advising parents of the series’ popularity and are encouraging adults watch the show to assess its appropriateness for their teen and to protect youth who may be particularly vulnerable to its content, as well as watching it with teens to prompt discussion and processing of the content. For its part, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention held a webinar on the topic, which quickly booked up. They’re promoting awareness of risk factors and warning signs as a part of Mental Health Month and have made the webinar recording available for viewing.

We hope these resources will help you spread the word about Mental Health Month. Is your organization holding an event or do you have your own content to share? We’d be happy to help you spread the word, just leave us a comment below!

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An update on Call Report Form and Messaging Enhancements

multi channel

In December of 2016, iCarol announced a suite of enhancements for call report forms and Messaging. These enhancements include the following benefits:






  • Greater Productivity
    • Faster completion of forms
    • Faster onboarding of new volunteers and staff
    • Quicker geographic suggestions
  • Widen your volunteer pool
    • Improved accessibility
    • User friendly interface
  • Improved Connection to Help Seekers
    • Faster delivery of chat and text messages
  • Better Documentation
    • Report form opens with chat or text conversation
  • Quicker, more accurate referrals
    • Improves outcomes
    • Streamlined, powerful resource search tools

For more information about the enhancements, please refer to the Help page in iCarol, by clicking Help in the left hand menu. There are two documents and a training webinar available in the “New” section of the Help page with information about the enhancements.

It is our goal to upgrade all clients to the new version of the call report form and Messaging by the end of 2017. Therefore, this upgrade is mandatory, and all clients will be upgraded. We began this work by sending out a survey to iCarol Admins which asked which quarter they would like to be upgraded in. We used the responses to this survey to begin scheduling clients for the upgrade. Those who did not respond to the survey have also been scheduled for the upgrade. The timing of the upgrade for each client is based on the features they are using in their call report forms. Not all features are available in the new version of the call report form yet, but these features will be added throughout the year.

iCarol staff will be in close communication with clients who are being upgraded, and will provide all the information needed to successfully complete the upgrade. Timely responses from clients throughout the upgrade process would be greatly appreciated so the upgrade can proceed in an efficient and effective manner. Clients will be informed of when the upgrade will occur, and if the timing does not work for them, they can request to be rescheduled for a later date. Please be aware, we will do our best to re-schedule clients to a time they request, but we cannot guarantee this. We must balance the requests with the availability of iCarol staff to complete the upgrade.

The call report upgrade process and Messaging upgrade process when Messaging portals are being used will proceed as follows:

    1. At the end of each month in 2017, iCarol will send an email to all clients scheduled to be upgraded the next month.
    2. A case will be created by iCarol staff to track the upgrade process.
    3. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case and provide the following information:
      a. Which week the client is scheduled for the upgrade
      b. Where to find information about the enhancements
      c. Which forms, if any, are ineligible for the upgrade, due to special features which may not be available in the new version of the call report form yet
      d. Information about adding demo forms to the client system
    4. A member of the iCarol Support team will add demo forms to the client system. These demo forms will be copies of the client’s call report forms, upgraded to the new version of the call report form.
    5. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case when the demo forms are added. The demo forms will allow clients to preview and play with the new version of the call report form prior to completing the upgrade. They can also be used to train staff and volunteers on the new version of the call report form.
    6. A week prior to the upgrade week, a member of the iCarol Support Team will respond to the case with the exact date the upgrade will be completed.
    7. On the day of the upgrade, the upgrade will be completed, and the demo forms will be deleted. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case to indicate the upgrade is complete. If there were call report forms not eligible to be upgraded, iCarol staff will reach out later in the year to schedule the upgrade of these forms.

If Messaging portals are not being used, the upgrade process is a little different, and will proceed as follows:

    1. At the end of each month in 2017, iCarol will send an email to all clients scheduled to be upgraded the next month.
    2. A case will be created by iCarol staff to track the upgrade process.
    3. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case and provide the following information:
      a. Which week the client is scheduled for the upgrade
      b. Where to find information about the enhancements
      c. A detailed list of steps to upgrade to Messaging portals
      d. Specific questions that the client will need to answer so the iCarol Support team member can begin setting up Messaging portals. Please note, the process cannot continue until these questions are answered, so it is very important that a timely response be sent.
    4. Once the answers to the specific questions noted above are received, the iCarol Support team member will begin to set-up Messaging portals in the client system. Once completed, they will respond to the case with instructions on the next step in the process which the client will need to take, which is to assign Vols-Staff member to Portal Programs.
    5. Client assigns Vols-Staff to Portal Programs, and responds to the case to let the iCarol Support team member know they have completed the task. Again, the process cannot proceed until the iCarol Support team member receives confirmation that this task is complete.
    6. Once confirmation of the task outlined above has been received, the iCarol Support team member will complete the set-up of Messaging portals.
    7. The iCarol Support team member will respond to the case and provide instructions on next steps, which include:
      a. Setting up Shifts for Portal Programs
      b. Updating website with new URL(s) for Messaging
      c. Editing Standard Messages
      This response will also include which week the upgrade process will be completed in, and information about adding demo forms to the client system.
    8. A member of the iCarol Support team will add demo forms to the client system. These demo forms will be copies of the client’s call report forms, upgraded to the new version of the call report form.
    9. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case when the demo forms are added. The demo forms will allow clients to preview and play with the new version of the call report form prior to completing the upgrade. They can also be used to train staff and volunteers on the new version of the call report form. If there are call report forms that are ineligible to be upgraded at this time, these will be noted in this response.
    10. A week prior to the upgrade week, a member of the iCarol Support Team will respond to the case with the exact date the upgrade will be completed.
    11. On the day of the upgrade, the upgrade will be completed, and the demo forms will be deleted. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case to indicate the upgrade is complete.

If there were call report forms not eligible to be upgraded, iCarol staff will reach out later in the year to schedule the upgrade of these forms. If there are any questions about the upgrade process, please feel free to submit a case to the iCarol Support Team via the online case management system, accessed by clicking Help in the left hand menu in your iCarol system.

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Career Opportunity at Marin Suicide Prevention and Community Counseling

Vols-Staff with Question Mark

Our friends at Marin Suicide Prevention & Community Counseling are seeking candidates for the position of Program Director. Below is information shared with us by them, and links to more details and instructions on applying for this position:

    Marin Suicide Prevention & Community Counseling is currently hiring for the position of Program Director, a Full-Time, Exempt (40 hours) position in San Rafael, California. SP&CC is a program of Buckelew Programs. The program consists of about 35 volunteers and takes approximately 15,000 calls annually.

    For the full job description, responsibilities, requirements, and more, plus information on how to apply, click here.

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Last call for your input on renaming “Calls” features

Calls

Back in October we noted that we are considering a change to the names and labels used for certain features of iCarol, in order to more accurately and inclusively reflect how these features are being used, and recognize the diverse services being offered by our users. We’ve gotten a lot of responses. Here’s just a glimpse at the results of our survey so far:




    Question 1: If we were to rename the “Calls” page to better describe how you use that area of iCarol, what word would you use?
    Top three choices:
    Contacts, Conversations, Interactions

    Question 2: If we were to rename “Caller Profiles” to also better describe the people who regularly use your service, what should we call it?
    Top three choices:
    Profiles, Clients, Familiar Users

    Question 3: Would you be interested in providing more product feedback to us while we work to improve iCarol? What is the best way to invite your feedback?
    Top three choices:
    Email, In-app pop-up surveys, Dashboard

There’s still a little time left to give your input before we close this survey on December 7th so our team can take the next steps to analyze your responses, discuss, and make our own recommendation to move forward. Don’t miss your chance to give your valuable input to this discussion!

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iCarol helps you promote your Giving Tuesday messages

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Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday and we know many of you have some great campaigns in the works to generate awareness about your organization, which will hopefully result in donations as well.

We’re extending the offer to help you boost the signal on your Giving Tuesday tweets. Here’s how you can help us retweet you and generate more views for your tweets:

    1. Follow us on Twitter
    2. We’ll follow you back
    3. Be sure to use the official #GivingTuesday hashtag in your tweets
    4. Throughout the day we’ll retweet you to our followers

Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to get the word out about your organization and get noticed during this season of charitable giving. We’re looking forward to reading all your great tweets sharing information about the valuable work of your organizations and wish you all lots of success generating interest, awareness, and monetary support for your agency!

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Career Opportunity at Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is currently seeking a Bilingual Helpline Social Worker/Addiction Specialist.

Below are the details about the position responsibilities and qualifications. Should you want more information about this opportunity, or if you’d like to apply, please reach out directly to Partnership for Drug-Free kids at the email listed below.

    Helpline Social Worker/Addiction Specialist – Bilingual

    Partnership for Drug-Free Kids helps families impacted by adolescent substance abuse and addiction. We are seeking a bilingual (English/Spanish) individual with a master’s degree in social work or a related field, and a background in addiction treatment for a grant-funded long term consulting assignment (approximately 3-4 months in length). This consulting role is an integral part of our Parent Support Network, with primarily responsibility for handling our toll-free telephone Helpline for parents and caregivers of kids involved with drugs and alcohol.

    In addition to the Helpline, the Parent Support Network is composed of extensive, science-based resources for parents and families at www.drugfree.org and a new system of peer-to-peer parent coaching, which pairs trained parents who have experienced a child’s substance use disorder with parents whose kids are struggling now. The Parent Support Network relies heavily on the principles of Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), which has been shown to be effective in helping the family members of someone involved with substance use in ways that produce positive outcomes for the person using, and for the family as well.

    This consulting role will focus on the Helpline, answering the phones, documenting all call reports within the iCarol data collection/reporting system and directing families to services within their communities as well as Partnership if and when appropriate.

    Major Responsibilities

  • Answer and document all helpline calls. We are seeking an individual to work a part-time (30 hours per week) evening and weekend schedule – onsite or from home – but can be flexible and consider a variety of schedule options in terms of the number of days per week, hours available, etc.
  • Support parents / caregivers by: providing science-based information about teen substance use; helping parents understand their child’s problem and make a plan to address it; employing CRAFT principles of listening, communication and support; directing to appropriate services / resources as necessary
  • Collect and record caller data, and handling after call follow-up
  • Refer where appropriate to the Network’s parent coaching system
  • Contribute clinical expertise to other members of the Partnership team as needed
  • Respond to e-mails and electronic messages from Parents and Caregivers
  • Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in counseling, social work, human services, or any closely related field — and a background in addiction treatment (substance abuse assessment and counseling)
  • Ability to speak, read and write in English and Spanish
  • Has experience in crisis intervention and aware of best practices in assessing for suicidality, homicidality as well as child neglect and abuse
  • 2 years minimum of direct clinical or telephone helpline experience
  • Prior experience in the substance abuse field
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills with the ability to convey empathy and understanding to those in need
  • Cultural awareness, sensitivity and counseling competency
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Additional Preferred Assets:

  • Knowledge of iCarol reporting system
  • Knowledge of CRAFT, familial interventions and/or motivational interviewing for substance use disorders.
  • Familial/adolescent counseling experience a major plus
  • Strong writing skills for answering emails, blog posts and parent follow-up.
  • Crisis intervention/helpline/hotline/telephonic care experience
  • How to Apply:

    The Partnership values diversity in our workforce and encourages candidates of diverse backgrounds to apply. Please send your resume, cover letter and salary history to jobs@drugfree.org No phone calls, please.

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iCarol team in Phoenix for NASCOD/CUSA conference

NASCOD CUSA 2016 Conference

Next week Polly and Eliisa will be in Phoenix to participate in the NASCOD/CUSA conference.

This annual conference is special to us — it was one of the very first events that we started attending back many years ago when iCarol was first created and available as a software system for helplines. Many of the crisis centers that make up the NASCOD and CUSA groups were some of our first users and so this conference and this group of people holds a special place in our hearts.

If your center isn’t already accredited by CONTACT USA, or if you aren’t already a NASCOD member, we encourage you to consider both for your helpline.

CONTACT USA provides one of the most well known and respected crisis center accreditations in the industry. When you are accredited by CONTACT USA it shows your funders that they are contributing to a worthwhile and effective program, and also connects you to a national and international community of those who provide emotional support and crisis intervention all over the world. Further, your community will be assured that your organization provides the highest quality of service. To find out more about this accreditation, you can visit their website.

NASCOD membership is a great resource for Executive Directors or Program Managers of crisis centers. The group provides regular peer support calls on a number of different helpful topics, and group members are regularly networking, discussing challenges, sharing ideas, and generally supporting one another. Many NASCOD members are also iCarol clients and we really enjoy our relationship with the group and its members, iCarol users and non-users alike.

So if you’ll be one of the many people in Phoenix later this week, please stop by our booth and say hi! If you use iCarol at your helpline then we’d certainly love to get to visit face to face. If you’re not a current user, we’d be grateful for the opportunity to tell you about iCarol Helpline Software and how it’s used by helplines all over the world, many of whom will be represented at this conference. Hope to see you there!

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North Carolina 2-1-1 weathers the storm, helps those left in Matthew’s wake

NC 211

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, many states in the southeastern United States faced destructive damage including massive flooding.

Here’s the latest from our friends at 2-1-1 in North Carolina:



    NC 2-1-1 Provides Resources to NC Residents Affected by Hurricane Matthew
    NC residents in all 100 NC counties can dial 2-1-1 from any phone 24/7 for resources

    Raleigh, NC – NC Emergency Management has asked NC residents affected by Hurricane Matthew or those wishing to help with disaster relief to dial 2-1-1 for storm related resources. Residents in all 100 counties can dial 2-1-1 from any phone to reach a trained call specialist who can help them find shelters, and learn about evacuation routes, find help with storm clean-up, locate food, water and ice, learn more about volunteer needs and more. The service is available 24/7 in any language and callers will always be connected to a live call specialist trained to assist during disasters.

    NC 2-1-1 call specialists are in contact with emergency management personnel and have the most up-to-date information on storm related resources, both during the storm and after. Call specialists can provide evacuation and shelter information, help people find food, water and ice distribution points and storm clean-up information and help, and help people find storm related clean-up help. Call specialists also have information about volunteer and donation needs and can provide that information to callers wishing to help those affected by the storm. NC residents should dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162.

    In addition to disaster related calls, NC 2-1-1 can help NC citizens find resources for other health and human service needs, such as food, housing, assistance with utilities, job training, information about health care providers, and more year round. All calls are confidential and the service is offered at no cost to North Carolina residents.

    NC 2-1-1 is provided to residents in all 100 North Carolina counties by United Way. The service is free, confidential, and available 24/7/365 in any language.


NC 2-1-1 staff shared with us that amidst the challenges of the situation, their service is standing out and being recognized by leadership throughout the state for their availability and outstanding service to their community. The system has proven itself to be a great tool to help citizens in need, and the people reaching them are feeling comforted, and pleasantly surprised, when they reach a live person.

We received a nice note from them in the aftermath of the storm:

    “iCarol has served us incredibly well and I am so pleased with how easily I can pull the statistics I need. A big thank you to Mary for helping me pull those saved chart templates together Friday afternoon. The leadership at emergency management has been so impressed with the kind of information we can provide to them with just a few key strokes.” – Heather, NC 2-1-1 Statewide Strategy Director

We’re honored to be NC 2-1-1′s choice of software providers and we’re glad that iCarol has been an instrument to help them help people and produce important data for emergency management personnel, while reducing stress on their staff. Our thoughts continue to be with them and with all the people in the southeast US affected by Hurricane Matthew.

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“The Listeners” and local helpline draw media coverage in Maryland

Listeners Still 9

Last week we shared information with you about “The Listeners,” a new documentary film that goes inside the work of suicide prevention helplines and the listeners who work there.

My hometown is one of the locations hosting a screening in the coming weeks, and my local paper published this article about the upcoming screening, the film itself, and the work of the local helpline (where I used to work!) which is a program of the Mental Health Association of Frederick County in Maryland. In fact, this showing is at capacity, having sold out all available tickets.

The article provides information about the services of the helpline in Frederick, Maryland and highlights the tough but valuable work they do. The publication also interviewed Robert Hurst, the director of the film, and he shares his thoughts on the work of the service where he filmed the documentary. He even participated in the volunteer training so he could get a first-hand feeling of what the volunteers go through, and he shares his feelings and experiences on that process.

A final thing to note about the newspaper article is that the author identifies herself as a suicide attempt survivor with lived experience, and shares her thoughts and comments on helpline services. She had valuable insight to provide that is not only interesting and adds a unique and important perspective to the topic, but may be worth sharing with the listeners at your own helpline.

The screening and local media attend around will undoubtedly lead to increased awareness of the hotline’s services, and integrated fundraising both at the screening and online associated with it, will likely lead to a donation boost as well. I’m excited to attend our local screening of “The Listeners” tomorrow and I’ll be sure to share my thoughts after.

UPDATE: The film was awesome and very well-received by the sold out audience of community supporters, mental health advocates, and helpline staff and volunteers. I can’t wait to share my thoughts — stay tuned!

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Louisiana United Ways/2-1-1 respond to flood disaster

SOCIAL MEDIA BUTTON UW Text to give

Heavy rainfall over the course of several days has resulted in severe flooding in parts of Louisiana.

Here at iCarol our thoughts are with the people of Louisiana as well as our friends and partners at the United Way agencies and 2-1-1 call centers in the region who are helping those affected. Many of the people working at these agencies are currently facing the same hardships as the people they’re trying to help, and so it’s very inspiring to see their energy used in service to others at a time that may be just as difficult for them personally.

Our team also extends our love and support for our very own Christa who lives in Baton Rouge. We hope the flood waters recede soon so that everyone can be safe, regain power and other necessities, and begin the repair and recovery process.

The devastating impact so far:

  • 13 people have lost their lives
  • Over 30,000 rescues initiated
  • Over 12,000 people staying in shelters at the height of the crisis
  • 40,000 homes and businesses lost power
  • Over 60,000 homes damaged or destroyed
  • 102,000 registered for federal disaster aid
  • Over 25 inches of rainfall in some locations over the course of just a few days

United Way organizations throughout the region are helping to coordinate disaster relief efforts as well as accepting donations to assist with response. Please see below for press releases and other information from our contacts at these organizations:

——————

From United Ways across Acadiana:

St. Landry-Evangeline United Way, United Way of Acadiana, United Way of Iberia and United Way of Southwest Louisiana have partnered to launch the Greater Acadiana United Way Disaster Fund. To donate, text keyword FLOOD2016 to 41444, visit each individual United Way web site or contact the individual United Way.

United Way-supported programs with nonprofit partner agencies help provide food, clothing, counseling and other services.

“On top of the downturn in the local economy, this flooding is causing even more damage to financially stressed families,” said United Way of Acadiana President and CEO Margaret Trahan. “We really need to pull together and pool our resources to do the most good for the most people.”

United Ways are partnering with local residents and partners in the non-profit sector, businesses, faith-based sector and government to help people through the recovery process.

United Ways are also working with Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to assess all other volunteer needs. Once those other volunteer have been identified, a United Way representative will contact registered volunteers with additional information. You can register to volunteer for emerging volunteer needs at www.unitedwayofacadiana.org or www.getconnected.uwsle.org.

United Way of Acadiana is accepting donated goods at its warehouse at 215 E. Pinhook Rd. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until further notice.

This location is the staging point for all donated supplies, which will be dispersed to shelters and other places where needed.

United Way of Acadiana is also working in collaboration with The Daily Advertiser, which is also a drop-off site for donated goods until Monday, Aug. 15.

Items needed are:

  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Diapers
  • Baby food & formula
  • Toilet paper
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food items (e.g. canned goods)
  • Buckets
  • Mops
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Rubber gloves
  • Masks
  • New, unopened packages of underwear (adult & children)
  • New, unopened packages of socks (adult & children)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Deodorant
  • School supplies, due to flooding in local schools
  • Boxes or containers

There is not a need for clothing donations at this time.

From Capital Area United Way in Baton Rouge:

With the continuing devastation occurring in our community, Capital Area United Way is now accepting donations for flood relief. During this historic flood, most of our 10-parish area has been deeply affected, and we stand together with local partners in the non-profit sector, businesses, faith-based sector and government to help people through the recovery process. Basic needs is one of the focus areas for Capital Area United Way to stabilize individuals and families in times of crisis.

To make a donation text LAFLOOD to 313131 or visit www.cauw.org and click donate. Donations can also be mailed to Capital Area United Way, Attn: Flood Relief, 700 Laurel Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802. For volunteer opportunities visit www.cauw.org/volunteer.

In addition to monetary gifts, Capital Area United Way is accepting donated goods (listed above) at its office at 700 Laurel Street from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily until further notice. This location is the staging point for all donated supplies, which will be distributed to shelters and other locations where needed.

Related reading:

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