According to information released by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the 988 Formative Research Project began in summer 2022 as a collaborative effort led by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), and the Ad Council Research Institute (ACRI), supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This project fills a critical research gap and supports more informed 988 messaging and implementation efforts.
In an upcoming webinar, they will preview findings of the 988 Formative Research. These findings can help form the basis of future culturally sensitive, responsive, effective, and successful 988 communications that will make more people aware of 988 across the country, and instill trust and confidence in the service so people will contact 988 when struggling with mental health, or in a moment of crisis, or in need of support.
The webinar will also preview resources developed by the project that can support behavioral health agencies and service providers’ communication efforts to increase awareness and use of 988 in their communities.
Date: Tuesday, November 7, 2023
Time: 2:30pm Eastern
Learn More and Register
CharityLogic, Inc. is not affiliated with this webinar but is promoting it as a public service to our customers and others who may benefit from the content.
One of the things I like most about Halloween is that it offers such a wide range of ways to participate and have fun. Horror movies not your thing? You can stick to fun activities like carving a jack-o-lantern and handing out candy to trick or treaters (in normal, non-pandemic years at least). And then there are the endless costume possibilities. You can be anything from a superhero to your favorite movie character to some very obscure cultural reference or the more traditional choice of ghost or vampire.
So with that range of costume possibilities and ways to have fun in mind, it’s always deeply upsetting to see Halloween become an event where mental illness is misrepresented and stigmatized. Some haunted house attractions are centered around “asylum” themes, or have a “haunted psych ward” component. Actors wearing straight jackets or wielding weapons chase visitors and shout lines about hearing voices. The message is very clear: Mental illness, and people who experience mental illness, are scary, violent, and to be feared.
In recent years, several costumes have been pulled from the shelves following pressure from mental health advocates. Unfortunately every year there are still a few new inappropriate and offensive costumes that pop up and make their way to stores and online retailers, and regrettably they are eventually seen out in public at bars and parties. And each time one is sold and then worn, it perpetuates the stigma and misconceptions around mental illness.
These interjections of mental illness into Halloween are neither fun nor harmless, but keep in place harmful stereotypes. These attractions and costumes continue pushing the idea that a person living with mental illness is violent and should be avoided. Discrimination is still a problem for people living with mental illness, and every day those who experience symptoms choose not to seek help for fear of mistreatment by the public, or that their relationships with family and friends will suffer. These depictions also hurt those who have experienced mental illness, especially those who have been hospitalized. Their deepest fears about what society thinks of them are realized when they see illness become a subject of fear-based entertainment.
It would never be acceptable to have haunted houses set in a hospice or cancer wing of a hospital, nor would we find cancer patient costumes to be appropriate. It’s important that we all speak up when we see mental illness being stigmatized, and stand up for those who have experience with illness and are negatively impacted by the perpetuation of stigma.
At iCarol, our system security is a top priority and we follow the best practices and guidelines put forth by major technology advisory groups, certification boards, and others. In recent months, we have enhanced elements of iCarol security such as password reset policies and automatic timeouts as a result of such guidance.
For our October Support Training, we invite customers to join us for a discussion around these latest enhancements, how they work, why we put them into place, and how adapt to these changes within your organization.
Date: Wednesday, October 18
Time: 2pm Eastern
To register for this webinar, log into iCarol — the link to register is posted in the iCarol Help Center Community Announcements as well as the Admin Dashboard.
Content warning: The following blog article discusses the topic of suicide.
Throughout the month of September, and most especially on World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) and Suicide Prevention Week (September 10 – 16) we remember the lives lost to suicide, the millions of people who have struggled with suicidal ideation, and acknowledge the individuals, families, and communities that have been impacted by suicide loss and attempts. This is also a time to raise awareness about suicide prevention, and spread the word that suicide prevention is everyone’s business!
There are things all of us can do to recognize Suicide Prevention Month and raise awareness, which will ultimately help save lives.
Know the Warning Signs
One of the most crucial aspects of suicide prevention is recognizing the warning signs. These can vary from person to person, but some common signs include:
- Expressing thoughts of suicide or a desire to die.
- A sudden change in behavior, such as withdrawing from social activities.
- Giving away possessions or making final arrangements.
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol.
- Drastic mood swings or expressions of hopelessness.
What should one do if they are feeling suicidal, or want to help a loved one who is exhibiting warning signs?
One of the best things you can do is to directly ask someone exhibiting warning signs if they have had thoughts of suicide/killing themself. Offer support, encouragement, and a non-judgmental listening ear. Let them know that it’s very normal to go through hard times or experience depression/anxiety and other mental health concerns, including thoughts of suicide. Reassure them that you are a safe place to bring those thoughts and concerns, and that you want to help be there for them. Often times, just having a safe and non-judgmental place to discuss a problem is immediately comforting and can reduce someone’s risk level. Breaking the stigma around mental illness and suicide, and showing someone that it is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about and that you will continue to be there for them, can be immensely helpful.
It’s also helpful to know what resources are available to someone who needs help. For many people, coping mechanisms and safety planning, along with potentially receiving assistance like therapy, can be very beneficial. For those who are in crisis and may need immediate assistance, resources such as a suicide prevention helpline, walk-in center, mobile crisis team, or crisis stabilization may be worth exploring.
In the United States, 988 is the number to dial to reach the national network of centers who are specially training for suicide prevention. This number also acts as access to your community crisis hub where knowledgeable individuals answering calls/texts/chats will know what local resources are available, and how you or a loved one can access them.
Canada is currently in the process of adopting a nationwide 988 number as well. In the meantime, Talk Suicide Canada can be reached at 1-833-456-4566, or 1-866-277-3553 for those in Quebec.
Above all, we should recognize that suicide prevention is everyone’s business and responsibility. It’s on all of us to know the warning signs and know what to do to connect someone with the help they need. Some will avoid or ignore the issue thinking it is always best left to the professionals. And while that is true of providing someone with mental health treatment, anyone is capable of learning the warning signs and risk factors, and knowing what to do next.
Here are some steps you can take to make a difference during Suicide Prevention Month and beyond:
- Educate yourself: Learn more about the risk factors, warning signs, and available resources for suicide prevention. Consider taking a training like Mental Health First Aid, safeTALK, ASIST, or QPR.
- Reach out: If you suspect someone is struggling, don’t hesitate to ask them how they’re feeling and let them know you’re there to listen.
- Support mental health services: Advocate for increased funding and access to mental health services in your community. Encourage people to make donations to the non-profit organizations in your community that provide crisis services.
- Share resources: Use your platform to share information about crisis hotlines, support groups, and other resources available to those in need.
- Self-care: Take care of your mental health, and encourage others to do the same. Practicing self-care helps create a more empathetic and understanding society.
Suicide Prevention Month brings attention to an issue that affects far too many lives, and is a great entry point for many people to learn more about this important topic. But, it’s not enough to focus on suicide prevention for just one month a year. The work must continue year-round. By understanding the signs, breaking down stigma, and taking action to support those who are struggling, we can make a significant impact in the fight against suicide. Let’s work together to create a world where mental health is a priority, and every individual knows that they are not alone in their struggles. Remember, help is just a call or text away, and these organizations are here to support you or someone you care about.
After fifty years of serving the sector as the Alliance of Information & Referral Systems (AIRS), the organization has rebranded the organization as Inform USA to better reflect its commitment to its mission and members. The change was announced at its 50th Anniversary Celebration on the evening of July 31 at the organization’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida.
Among the reasons for the name change, Inform USA more closely aligns the organization with its Canadian counterpart and frequent partner and collaborator, InformCanada. The chat bubbles seen in the new logo visually represent the exchange of information its membership provides to the consumers and constituents they serve.
In the announcement, InformUSA explained the balance of the need to preserve the legacy and good works of the organization over the past 50 years, with needed changes around technology, access, and modernization. The organization’s overall mission remains the same, however members are promised greater ease of access to membership benefits, networking, and information via the new and improved website and Member Compass.
The iCarol team is very excited to see our friends at Inform USA take these steps to build a bright future for everyone in the I&R industry. We can’t wait to see what’s next, and offer our sincere congratulations and support!
iCarol is very proud and excited to be an exhibitor at the upcoming USAging (Formerly known as n4a) conference and tradeshow from July 16-17.
This will be iCarol’s fourth year in attending USAging. We are excited to once again celebrate the work of Area Agencies on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), and other organizations providing services to older adults and their caregivers. In a now post-COVID world, these organizations are readjusting their services and offerings. Many services that quickly adapted to the needs of these populations during COVID-19 have now found that older adults and caregivers want to continue accessing services in the ways they did during the pandemic – virtually or through other new communication channels. And as always as the generation entering adulthood shifts, so too are those expectations from the population in how, when, and where they access services or information. Clearly, we are in a very interesting and exciting time in this industry.
At our booth we’ll have information to share about how iCarol empowers ADRCs, AAAs, and Senior Information Lines, and other services for older adults, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers to:
- Provide social connection and ease loneliness through Telephone Reassurance Programs
- Collaborate with Community-Based Organizations to address Social Determinants of Health
- Participate in Health/Community Information Exchanges and No Wrong Door initiatives
- Provide comprehensive I&R, Closed-Loop referral and collect outcome data
- Document information included on reimbursement requests
- Meet people on preferred communication channels
- Integrate with other software and systems
If you’re attending the conference, be sure to visit the iCarol booth to learn more, download the resources we have available, and contact us with your questions! We invite you to schedule a meeting ahead of time using our convenient online calendar here.
July Is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, which is also known as BIPOC Mental Health Month.
July was first recognized as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in 2008, and was created to bring awareness to the struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental illness in the US.
Who was Bebe Moore Campbell?
Bebe Moore Campbell was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who worked to expose the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities.
Each year Mental Health advocacy organizations launch their public education campaigns dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
Mental Health America‘s chosen theme for BIPOC Mental Health Month in 2023 is “Culture, Community, & Connection.”
Our lives are deeply intertwined with our environments, and these surroundings impact our mental health and overall wellness. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) populations are faced with disproportionate amounts of historical trauma and displacement that can challenge their ability to thrive in their environments. However, culture, community, and connection are pillars that support and uplift BIPOC individuals in the face of oppression and systemic racism. Learn more in these resources about how BIPOC communities have thrived.
You can download Mental Health America’s free BIPOC Mental Health Month Toolkit here.
Even with increased awareness and understanding about mental health and mental illness, mental health care, particularly psychiatric care, can still be difficult to access. This often leaves Primary Care Physicians (PCPs), nurses, and other healthcare workers on the frontlines of mental health care in the United States.
However, in Utah PCPs can access specialized psychiatric consultations through the Consultation Access Link Line to Utah Psychiatry (CALL-UP) Program. This legislative funded program is designed to address the limited number of psychiatric services in Utah and improve access to them, and serves patients at no cost to providers or patients in the state of Utah.
iCarol is proud to play a role in the service delivery of CALL-UP, through CALL-UP’s use of iCarol for psychiatrist on-call shift sign up, CALL-UP program documentation to maintain state funding, and through iCarol’s Public Web Forms.
Here’s how iCarol fits into the service delivery workflow of the CALL-UP program in Utah:
- The on-call service for psychiatry consultation is available Monday through Friday from 12:00pm to 4:30 pm. Participating psychiatrists are invited by the CALL-UP program administrators to sign into the iCarol system to sign up for shifts where they will be on-call for consultations.
- Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) are instructed to contact the CALL-UP program to request a consultation. If the PCP calls in, CALL-UP staff collect basic demographic, needs, and other important data from the PCP in order to comply with state funding requirements, which is input by the phone specialist into iCarol, using an iCarol Contact Form. Then, they can forward the call to the on-call psychiatrist for the consultation to occur.
- PCPs can also request a consultation online, using an iCarol Public Web Form. The form has a built-in screening element that first ensures the requestor is a physician, as this is a requirement for program access. If they are not a physician, a prompt instructs them to please contact their doctor.
- If the requestor is a PCP then they continue to use the form to provide the information needed to obtain a consultation, including the demographic and other information required to maintain state funding.
- Once the Public Web Form is received by CALL-UP staff, they have the information they need to contact the PCP requesting consultation, and connect them with the on-call psychiatrist. Because the iCarol Web Form is simply a publicly available iCarol Contact Form, they already have the data they need, automatically submitted to iCarol with the form, to meet their reporting requirements.
For more information about Utah’s CALL-UP Program, visit their website.
Want to learn more about Public Web Forms and talk through how they might be used for your program or partnership?
Email Us Schedule a Meeting
CW: This blog post discusses stalking, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM), and though millions of men and women are stalked every year
in the United States, the crime of stalking is often misunderstood, minimized and/or ignored.
What is “stalking?”
Stalking is a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear. Many stalking victims experience being followed, approached and/or threatened — including through technology. Stalking is a terrifying and psychologically harmful crime in its own right as well as a predictor of serious violence.
Facts about stalking*
- In 85% of cases where an intimate partner attempted to murder their partner, there was stalking in the year prior to the attack.
- Of the millions of men and women stalked every year in the United States, over half report being stalked before the age of 25 and over 15% report it first happened before the age of 18.
- Stalking often predicts and/or co-occurs with sexual and intimate partner violence. Stalkers may threaten sexual assault, convince someone else to commit assault and/or actually assault their victims.
- Nearly 1 in 3 women who were stalked by an intimate partner were also sexually assaulted by that partner.
- Stalking tactics might include: approaching a person or showing up in places when the person didn’t want them to be there; making unwanted telephone calls; leaving unwanted messages (text or voice); watching or following someone from a distance, or spying on someone with a listening device, camera, or GPS.
What is the impact on stalking victims?*
- 46% of stalking victims fear not knowing what will happen next.
- 29% of stalking victims fear the stalking will never stop.
- 1 in 8 employed stalking victims lose time from work as a result
of their victimization and more than half lose 5 days of work or more.
- 1 in 7 stalking victims move as a result of their victimization.
- Stalking victims suffer much higher rates of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and social dysfunction than people in the general population.
How you can help
Helpline staff and volunteers can do a number of things to help people who reach you and talk about being stalked:
- Provide validation and empathy.
- Don’t minimize behaviors that are causing the person concern (e.g. “I wouldn’t worry.” “That doesn’t sound harmful.” “They’re only text messages.”)
- Encourage the person to keep keep detailed documentation on stalking incidents and behavior. More information and a template can be found here.
- Use Stalking Harassment and Risk Profile (SHARP) Risk Assessments at your organization. More information and a template can be found here.
- Empower and help the person develop a safety plan that is flexible, comprehensive, and contextual. More information can be found in this guide for advocates.
- If your organization does not provide direct services to assist with the issue, provide helpful resources such as a local domestic/intimate partner violence helpline, sexual assault helpline, legal resources, law enforcement, etc.
We all have a role to play in identifying stalking and supporting victims and survivors. We encourage you to learn more from the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center at www.stalkingawareness.org.
*Source: Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)
With our latest release of version 3.77, our new Automated Follow-ups Feature is now available! All iCarol subscribers have access to try Automated Follow-ups at no additional cost, for a limited time. Read on to learn more!
What is the Automated Follow-ups Feature?
Once enabled, this tool lets you create templates of configured follow-up activities, then automatically schedules those follow-ups when you submit the Contact Form. If follow-ups are set to occur by Email or SMS/Text, iCarol can send follow-ups automatically on your behalf according to the schedule. You can even link to surveys* or other forms* you want the client to fill out.
*Note you must subscribe to Public Web Forms to make use of the surveys. Sending outbound SMS/Texts may require additional nominals fees, please email us for details!
How will Automated Follow-ups help my organization and the people I serve?
Many of our customers say that they wish they could do more follow-up with clients, but limited staff and time prevent them from having robust follow-up programs. Because the tool allows you to both schedule one or multiple follow-up activities, and in many cases carry out these follow-ups on your behalf through emails and outgoing SMS/Texts, you’ll be better able to:
- Meet and exceed your satisfaction survey and quality assurance commitments
- Get more outcome data directly from your clients
- Have ongoing communication with more clients in more ways
- Reassure clients with ongoing warm reach outs
Where can I learn more about how to enable and use Automated Follow-ups?
- Sign in to iCarol, open the Help Center, and then click here to read our training materials.
- Join an upcoming training webinar. Dates and registration information is in the iCarol Help Center.
Tell me more about the free trial!
Automated Follow-ups are available to all iCarol customer organizations starting now through February 28, 2023. Our training webinars and help article share details on how you can enable the feature and set up your templates.
Try it for the next few months to see if this feature is for you. The first 20 organizations to subscribe before the trial ends will pay no setup costs! Please email us for information on subscription costs to use Automated Follow-ups once the trial period ends.
We’re here to support you and help you make the most of the Automated Follow-ups trial period. Please join one of our many scheduled training webinars, read our help articles, or open a ticket with the Support Team to learn more.