Helplines Partnership (HLP) is an important membership body for organizations that provide helpline services in the UK and around the world. They facilitate high quality service delivery to callers by providing training, a Helplines Quality Standard, and tailored support. HLP also raises the profile of the helpline sector by representing their members’ interests and influencing the social policy agenda. For over 25 years, Helplines Partnership has supported its members to deliver a quality service to vulnerable people when they need help the most.
HLP held their Annual Conference on November 30, 2017. The Conference this year was themed around “Life’s Journey” and held in London. It provided an opportunity for helpline professionals to network with one another, find inspiration and rejuvenate purpose and energy from the speakers and seminars presented. The conference also served as the place setting for Helpline Partnership’s Annual General Meeting, and Awards Ceremony recognizing achievements of member helplines in several categories. More than 120 people attended the conference this year, representing 40-50 helplines from HLP’s membership.
Following a welcome by Chair Sophie Andrews, the day began with its first ever International Member Showcase featuring Wida Yalaqi, founder of Afghanistan Capacity Development and Educational Organization (ACDEO). ACDEO is a helpline in Afghanistan, which works to improve the well-being of all Afghans by developing social welfare and promoting a better quality of life. Despite the great work done for women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, the vast majority of the Afghan population remain unaware of the rights afforded to women within the Afghan constitution. This prompted Wida, (an Afghan native who received her higher education in the UK before moving back to Afghanistan in 2005), to found the organization. They offer counseling, mental health support, advice on self-protection, consultation with a religious scholar if desired, and referrals to ground-based service providers. In the few years since its 2013 inception, ACDEO has helped more than 56,000 families with legal advice and counseling, and connected more than 2,000 callers with legal, protection and health services. Among their key accomplishments is the improvement of community perceptions of women’s rights.
For many attendees, the international showcase proved to be one of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring parts of the day. Hearing about the unique challenges faced by this helpline’s staff, and the high quality of services delivered by them in the face of some seemingly insurmountable odds was admirable. In addition to the typical challenges all helplines face, ACDEO must overcome obstacles like making connections with people, particularly women, who live in extremely remote and rural provinces. They are often illiterate and completely cut off from resources the rest of us take for granted, such as Internet access. Because their work is considered controversial within the framework of local culture, the staff face threats to their safety and must take many precautions just to carry out their work each day, navigating bomb threats and evacuations. Taking all this into account, it’s clear to see just how courageous and committed these helpline staff are in carrying out their work to improve the lives of Afghans.
With the conclusion of the international showcase, it was time to move to the seminars. Debbie Sadler spoke on behalf of Unlock, a national charity that provides a voice and support for people with convictions who are facing stigma and obstacles because of their criminal record, often long after they have served their sentence. Debbie spoke about the evolving ways in which clients wish to reach them, often dependent upon demographics. This discussion gave a chance for members to reflect on how much they are also seeing demands for alternative channels, which helps to inform Helplines Partnership of the training needs of their members as well.
The second seminar was presented by Emily Hodge of Coaching Emily. Emily is an ex-NHS and charity professional health psychology specialist and coach, and cancer survivor. She supports people moving forward from cancer and places a focus on gentle living and well-being. Emily’s seminar was particularly suited to the “Life’s Journey” theme of the conference. It was very helpful to attendees as far as the discussion of resilience and self-care needed to be effective helpline workers, given some of the vicarious trauma and personal toll that helping others can have on helpers and carers. Group exercises and discussion were a key part of Emily’s presentation.
Speaker Elizabeth Burton-Phillips MBE, who doubled as awards presenter, is the founder of DrugFam, an organization providing support to families of those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Elizabeth shared her personal journey as the parent of twin sons addicted to heroin, and the painful loss of one of her sons to the addiction, while the other is now in recovery. Elizabeth told her story, which many who have loved someone struggling with addiction, particularly parents, could identify with. As a secondary school teacher working in a nice community whose sons went to a private school, she never imagined drugs or addiction would be an issue. She spoke about the fact that addiction can touch any family, regardless of income, class, race, or other factors. As her sons’ substance use progressed, Elizabeth found herself making decisions out of love and wanting to provide her sons with comfort, but realized that in the end her actions were not what was truly best for her sons and actually enabled them instead. Her book Mum, Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid? What drugs did to my family explores the impact that drugs have had on her family, and serves as a reminder to families battling addiction that they are not alone. She founded DrugFam in order to help families going through similar experiences, and her charity work earned her the award of Member Of The Most Excellent Order Of The British Empire.
Elizabeth also hosted the Helpline Awards ceremony where six charities received honors in six different categories. iCarol sponsored the award for Best Innovative Use of Technology. You can read more about that here!
Chrissy B aka Christoulla Boodram, television personality and mental health advocate, participated in the conference by speaking alongside several of the guests including Dr. Audrey Tang, resident Psychologist on her program. Chrissy B’s show is dedicated entirely to mental health and wellbeing and is the UK’s only TV show with this as its sole focus. Chrissy B and her guests lead the conference participants in her signature Mental Health Dance Challenge providing all conference goers with the chance to have a little fun while being reminded of the importance of good mental health. The show was recorded and aired on Sky 203 on Monday 23 January 2018. You can watch the show featuring the HLP conference below, or visit Chrissy B’s YouTube channel.
The day ended with a keynote by Claire Lomas MBE. Claire was working as a chiropractor and had reached the highest level in the equestrian sport of eventing when a tragic accident left her paralyzed from the chest down. The adjustment after this drastic and life-alerting event was obviously an immense challenge for Claire, and it was hard not to dwell on all she had lost. While there were many dark days, she managed to dig deep to find the strength and courage to completely rebuild her life with renewed goals and focus.
Claire became headline news worldwide in 2012 when she walked the London Marathon in a pioneering robotic suit, which took a grueling 17 days and raised £210k for Spinal Research. She became the first owner of a robotic suit and used it when she had the honor of lighting the Paralympic cauldron in Trafalgar Square. In 2013 Claire completed a 400-mile hand-cycle around parts of England, visiting schools on the way to inspire students, and raising another £85k supporting the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.
Claire is a woman who never stops reaching for the next achievement. Believing that there will soon be a cure for spinal paralysis, in 2014 and 2015 she organized a series of events that took the fundraising total to over £500k, securing her place as one of Britain’s most inspirational women. She completed the Great North Run in 2016, and last summer she became the first paralyzed female with a motorcycle racing license.
Though a split second altered the course of Claire’s life forever, she emerged from the darkness to find new and immeasurable ways to contribute to the world. Claire’s keynote address left the audience emotional and inspired.
As you can hopefully see from this recap, the day was considered a resounding success by organizers and attendees alike. Feedback included praise such as:
“Very relevant and inspiring” “This is the best Conference I have attended” “Fantastic, funny and moving”
To learn more about Helplines Partnership membership and other information, you can visit them online, and follow them on social media:
Dan Maxwell, called “DMAX”, was a 3-sport athlete at Radnor High School
Athletes are perceived as successful and strong, able to meet every challenge. As a result, there is increased pressure both on and off the field to push forward, train hard, beat the competition, and stay silent when things get tough. Athletes are expected to juggle practice, games, training, families, social lives, and for younger athletes, school. It’s no wonder that athletes are more susceptible to developing mental health issues than non-athletes, including eating disorders, anxiety, burnout, depression, and suicide.
In her memoir “In The Water, They Can’t See You Cry” Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard chronicles her experience with mental illness and the pressure she faced to stay silent:
“I wrapped myself up in sadness like a martyr…I didn’t talk about what was happening to me with anybody — not my dad, mom, friends, or coach. Hop into the pool, do your sets, dinner, homework, bed. Business as usual…Now the pool had become another spot of despair. My safe zone was now a place where my brain constantly battled itself.”
Mars’ Hill College writes in their sports blog, No One Looking: The Stigma of Mental Illness in Sport, “The larger problem is that there is a deep-seated sports spirit that has embraced a tradition and notion of immense mental toughness and emotional resilience that makes it difficult, and nearly impossible, for athletes to call out for help.” Some professional athletes have taken the stage recently to speak about their experiences with mental distress, but mental health is still largely unaddressed in the sporting world, and often ignored by sports organizations.
DMAX Foundation believes that it is time to break the silence, because Courageous Conversations about mental health are critical to stemming the tragic consequences of untreated emotional pain. In service of this, DMAX Foundation will be bringing together a panel of professional athletes to discuss mental health in the sporting world, moderated by Blair Thomas, Penn State and New York Jets Running Back. Other panelists include Michael Haynes, Penn State and Chicago Bears Defensive End, Education Leader; Charlene Morett, Olympian and Penn State Field Hockey Coach; Brady Kramer, Montreal Canadiens, Athletic Director and Coach; Greg Ambrogi, UPenn Football and co-founder, Kyle Ambrogi Foundation.
NASW-PA Chapter is a co-sponsor of this workshop. 2.5 CEs will be awarded for completion of this course. Special discounts for students, military/first responders and athletic coaches. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
In addition to hosting mental health events for the community, DMAX Foundation is establishing DMAX Clubs on college campuses as environments for students to get together and talk about how they are doing, how their friends are doing, and how they can help each other. DMAX Clubs help reduce the sense of isolation and hopelessness for students who may be suffering from mental or emotional issues and can’t or don’t seek the help they need.
If you know a college student who would be interested in starting or joining a DMAX Club, work for a college that would like to establish a DMAX Club, want to volunteer, or would like to support their efforts through donation or sponsorship, contact DMAX Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest blogger views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of CharityLogic and iCarol
As part of their Annual Conference, Helplines Partnership (HLP) presented awards to helplines in six categories. A panel of independent judges evaluated the nominees and then picked one helpline that achieved excellence in their nominated category. This year’s judges were DI Ben Loose (Kent Police), Karen Ditchfield (HLP Trustee and Operations Director for the WISE Campaign), Georgina Bream (Healthwatch England), Jessica Murphy (Civil Service with a focus on well-being), and Neil Laybourn (Mental Health campaigner).
Through the awards, HLP aims to:
Celebrate the improvements helplines have made to people’s wellbeing either locally or nationally; to individuals or the community as a whole
Highlight the successes of ground-breaking changes in the way helplines are run through the use of technology
Recognize the achievements of those helplines, teams and individuals who have responded most successfully to the demands being placed on them
The six award categories were carefully selected to reflect the range of skills that are essential for any effective helpline.
The award categories were:
Helpline Employee of the Year
Helpline Volunteer of the Year
Best Helpline Sector Contributor
Helpline of the Year
Best Innovative use of Technology
iCarol was proud to sponsor the award in the category of Best Innovative Use of Technology, awarded to deafPLUS. This category was open to all member helplines who demonstrated how they have been creative and effective in the use of technology. This could be through the use of ground breaking technology to deliver the service, or how the helpline has introduced a new suite of communication channels or is trying something really pioneering. A nomination must include evidence of how the helpline operated and the benefits gained from the introduction of technology.
The nomination for deafPLUS explains why they were so deserving of this honor:
“Helplines by their very nature are not accessible to deaf people, and we wanted to change that. In 2015 deafPLUS launched the first ever national British Sign Language (BSL) Video Advice Helpline. It is the only helpline in the UK that enables Deaf BSL users to access information and advice direct in their first language without the need for an interpreter. We help with a range of issues such as money and debt, benefits and housing, civil advice and how to access external services. Deaf people can book an appointment via our website to speak to a specialist adviser who is also a native BSL user, using an online platform they are already familiar with such as Skype or Facetime. While Skype and Facetime are not new, we have used these pre-existing technologies in an innovative way to deliver this unique service for deaf people. Individuals do not have to go through the hassle of downloading a new app, or trying to familiarize themselves with a new video platform. Instead they can use an app they are already comfortable with, reducing stress, and making the advice-seeking process easier for the client. 85% of deaf people we surveyed said they had feared seeking information and advice through fears it would be inaccessible. Since monolingual BSL users will never be able to fully comprehend English, they must have fair access to information and advice in their own language.”
The judges agreed and chose deafPLUS as the honoree saying, “This is a very well thought out initiative using existing technologies in a creative way. It is beneficial to BSL users as it makes the new service easy to use and inclusive. As a project, it’s also cost effective for the helpline; easy to implement and support. Well done!”
Elizabeth Burton-Phillips MBE (right) presenting Julia Pitt, BSL Advice Helpline Manager at deafPLUS. Photo by Christian Trampenau
About their win, deafPLUS adds:
“deafPLUS provides a British Sign Language (BSL) Advice Helpline using popular video platforms such as Facetime, Skype, OoVoO and Whatsapp video. The service provides, mainly, Welfare Rights Advice which means Deaf people from all over the UK can receive professional advice through the comfort of their mobile phones, laptops or tablets without having to travel a long way to a Centre. Many of deafPLUS Centres are Local Authority funded so people who live outside of these areas are unable to receive much needed advice. Currently there are welfare benefit reforms which causes huge distress to Deaf people who find the information and letters complicated and inaccessible. Our BSL Advice Helpline breaks down these barriers and supports them with casework to ensure the best possible outcome. We were delighted to win the Helplines Partnership Award for Best Use of Innovative Technology.”
At iCarol, we deeply believe that technology can improve a helpline’s service delivery and expand their reach so that they can help more people. Clearly, deafPLUS exemplifies not only all that we at iCarol hope helplines can achieve through technology, but they were a clear choice for the Best Use of Innovative Technology award at the Helplines Partnership Conference. Congratulations to deafPLUS and all this year’s award winners!
Our next webinar, titled “Building a United Crisis Line Team in Times of Diverse Need,” will be held on Tuesday, February 6th at 2pm EST.
With the stress of crisis call content and increasing volume as well as an expanding spectrum of needs being addressed, it can be difficult to know how best to unify your team and provide them with ample support, supervision and training, while also addressing your own operations, adequate scheduling, and volunteer/staff development.
This webinar, led by Rebecca Stock and Johanna Louie of the Suicide Prevention Center at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, will guide crisis center managers and supervisors through addressing these challenges. Attendees of this webinar will learn about expanding the skillsets of their staff and volunteers so that a wide array of topics can be addressed by them on calls and chats, ensuring that the most vulnerable populations are well served. Our presenters will also take us through how to balance the management of day-to-day operations with the needs of the volunteer or staff crisis workers. We’ll also discuss how to pair data and manager expertise to plan for operational and staffing needs. The tools we discuss will accelerate crisis lines’ abilities to balance meeting the increasing demand of people in crisis while caring for a vulnerable team of crisis counselors.
Rebecca Stock joined Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in 2007 as a Volunteer Suicide Prevention Counselor and since then has become a Supervisor and is now the Program Coordinator for the 24-Hour Crisis Line. As Program Coordinator, Rebecca provides direct supervision of the Shift Supervisors and Crisis Line Counselors and oversees the daily operations of the crisis line. A large part of Rebecca’s duties include interfacing with related community agencies and local colleges, attending meetings with the Department of Social Services, participating in various outreach events. Being part of the Suicide Crisis Line for over 10 years, Rebecca has been trained in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and plays a large role in providing training for new Volunteer Crisis Counselors. In January 2017, Rebecca completed her Masters in Counseling specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy. Rebecca has been touched by losing someone to suicide when in high school and has wanted to erase the stigma since then.
Johanna Louie started at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services as a Volunteer Crisis Line Counselor in 2013. Currently, she is the Online Crisis Services Program Coordinator and oversees the chat and text services. She is passionate about utilizing technology to break down barriers to mental health services. Johanna is data driven and utilizes her prior experience in consumer insights at The Walt Disney Company to leverage analytics in making operational decisions for the Crisis Line. Her experiences in crisis services also include involvement with the Emergency Shelter Program at Center for the Pacific Asian Families, the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team as well as The Trevor Project. She holds a Master of Science in Human Behavior from the University of Southern California and is currently pursuing her Master of Social Work from Columbia University.
We hope you can join us for this informative webinar. To find out more and register, click the button below.
Crystal T. Henson, MA, a Clinical Psychology Doctoral Candidate at Western Kentucky University, is conducting a dissertation project regarding crisis line staff and self-care engagement. In order to help Crystal gather data, we wanted to make all crisis helpline staff, volunteers, and managers aware so they can share their useful input. The survey takes 10-20 minutes to complete and asks questions regarding work experience and self-care engagement. The survey can be accessed by following this link, and can be completed on a desktop or mobile device. Please note it will close at midnight CST on January 31, 2018.
We hope you can take a few moments to offer your valuable input toward Crystal’s dissertation. Click here to participate.
Wednesday January 31st is a big day for Canadian mental health initiatives: It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day!
This annual event draws attention to the topic of mental health, particularly the stigma attached to mental illness that prevents many from seeking help. The idea is that if we all talk more openly about mental health and are open to conversations about it, it will lessen the shame attached to mental illness. Bell also champions access to care, workplace mental health, and research.
On Bell Let’s Talk Day, people are encouraged to take to social media and discuss the topics of mental health and mental illness, and use the hashtag #BellLetsTalk on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and watching the Bell Let’s Talk video featured on their social media pages. On Facebook, watching the video or using their special profile photo frame raises funds. And Snapchat users can watch a video or use special filters to help raise funds. For participating in these various social media activities, Bell donates 5¢ to mental health initiatives and programs across Canada (including many services that are part of the iCarol family!). Bell customers can also participate by texting or making calls. Find out more about how to take part.
Bell Let’s Talk has had a profound impact across Canada. Since the campaign began in 2011 there have been nearly 730 million interactions around Bell Let’s Talk, with over $86 million donated to mental health initiatives. And 4 out of 5 Canadians say they are more aware of mental health issues since Bell Let’s Talk launched.
To learn more about Bell Let’s Talk, check out their website and toolkit that contains everything you need to participate. We hope you’ll follow us on Twitter and tweet along with us to raise awareness and remove the stigma from the conversation about mental health!
Adding on new communications channels people can use to reach your helpline is a critical element of providing effective service to your community in the 21st century. But, while the addition of such contact methods is important, it brings with it a unique set of challenges that crisis centers must be ready to address. Online emotional support, particularly Live Chat, can be extremely anonymous. In fact, that’s part of the appeal for users — the ability to confide in someone without revealing one’s face, voice, and identity sets exactly the stage that many people prefer or need in order to truly open up and reach out for help. In instances where emergency rescue might be needed for a person in imminent danger, the same exciting technology that allows so many in need to access help in the way they prefer can create anxiety and headaches for crisis workers who want to help.
Join us for our next webinar where we’ll delve into the topic of active intervention in the online space, and how this aspect of crisis intervention continues to evolve.
When: Thursday, January 25, 2018 Time: 2:00pm Eastern
Director of Crisis Intervention Services
The Crisis Center of Johnson County
Beau has been part of the crisis intervention/suicide prevention field since 2002, when he started volunteering at his local crisis line. Subsequent experience being a flood recovery outreach counselor after the devastation of 2008 and working with the homeless population after that led him to a staff position with The Crisis Center of Johnson County, where he currently directs crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. He is a current board member for Contact USA, an accrediting body for crisis centers across the United States, and is part of the American Association of Suicidology’s Strategic Media Response Task Force. He has been involved in panel discussions on the intersection of video games and suicide at SXSW and other conferences, and has presented on how tech trends have affected and will continue to affect crisis intervention services.
By now many of you have read about the recently discovered security vulnerabilities named Meltdown and Spectre. We are closely tracking the availability of patches for different systems, and many of our systems in our data centers have already been patched. We’ll continue to monitor this on a daily basis and apply high confidence patches to our systems expeditiously.
We encourage iCarol users to be vigilant in monitoring for patches and updating your own PCs, laptops, mobile phones and other devices, to ensure the highest possible security. This includes paying close attention to available operating system updates (Windows Update, for example) and installing these updates promptly. Browser security is key as well, so be sure to check for and install the latest updates to your browsers of choice. Note also that as new security patches become available more updates may be necessary, and so fully securing your local tools from Spectre and Meltdown could be a multi-stage process.
Protecting and securing your data in iCarol is our top priority, which means we continuously review and audit our security protocols to continue offering the security you need and expect from iCarol. A recent audit has directed us to end support for TLS 1.0, TLS 1.1, SSL 2.0/3.0, and only to support TLS 1.2 and above. This means, that as of January 27, 2018, if you are accessing iCarol using a browser such as MS Internet Explorer 10, you will need to upgrade or switch to a supported browser to securely log into iCarol. Microsoft themselves ended support for IE10 almost two years ago and discourages its continued use.
You can visit https://www.howsmyssl.com/ to check your current browser security. If your SSL client is anything less than “Probably Okay,” then we strongly recommend you consider updating your browser and/or switching to another supported browser when accessing iCarol. Users attempting to log into iCarol with an insecure browser will be displayed a message on the login screen instructing them to upgrade by January 27, 2018 to prevent log in disruptions.
We thank you for your understanding as we make this change to continue offering the secure service you know and trust.
The skills and natural abilities that make us great listeners, social workers, and mental health advocates don’t always lend themselves to making us naturally at ease in management roles. Yet, at the heart of every thriving behavioral health organization is a strong and well-functioning team, and these teams often do not exist without adaptive leadership and effective management. As the demands on managers increase and access to resources becomes more elusive, the team’s ability to deliver on its performance indicators becomes even more crucial to program success.
Simply put — you can’t adequately deliver services, maintain funding for your program, and ensure quality performance, enthusiasm and job satisfaction among your staff without effective managers.
We hope you can join us for our next webinar on this topic, scheduled for January 9, 2018 at 1pm EST:
Practicing Effective Management presented by Sarah Bowman and Travis Atkinson of TBD Solutions.
What You’ll Learn:
In this webinar, we’ll provide tangible keys to effective management through strong working relationships, performance communication, delegation, and professional growth. We expect that by joining us you will:
Learn the four critical behaviors of effective managers: knowing your people, communicating about performance, pushing work down, and growing your people.
Understand benefits and challenges of managing people in a mission-driven organization.
Learn how to proactively address the most common challenges faced by managers, including burnout, turnover, poor communication, and lack of accountability.
Space in this free webinar is limited! Click here to register.
Meet Our Presenters:
Sarah Bowman, Associate Consultant, TBD Solutions
Sarah has infused the behavioral health system with infectious energy and a commitment to excellence for over 15 years. Her strong leadership, utilization of data-driven decision making, and focus on outcomes measurement has helped enhance a vast array of behavioral health programs and services. She is a dynamic presenter and trainer, with an excellent track record for building high performing, strengths-based teams.
Travis has served as a manager and educator for over a decade. A consummate student of management and leadership, Travis has supervised diverse teams and maintains a reputation for getting lasting results and spurring innovation. He has trained hundreds of managers across the Midwest.