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.
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 2022 is “Beyond The Numbers.”
Mental Health America recognizes that Black, Indigenous, and people of color have rich histories that go #BeyondTheNumbers. While there are stories of resilience born out of oppression, persecution, and abuse, there is immeasurable strength in each of these cultures. In an increasingly diversified America, we acknowledge the specificity of individual and group experiences and how it relates to their beliefs and well-being. BIPOC communities are significantly more likely to develop mental health conditions, and one of the major barriers to mental health treatment is access and the need for understanding mental health support. #BeyondTheNumbers explores the nuances and uniqueness in BIPOC communities.
You can download Mental Health America’s free BIPOC Mental Health Month Toolkit here.
Happy Pride Month!
At iCarol we live by the Harris Computer Systems core values, including the first and most important value: Respect of the Individual.
Of course that means creating a safe space where everyone is encouraged to live as their authentic selves and express who they are and how they wish to be addressed. That feeling extends to all of our customer organizations and end users of the iCarol software.
In the iCarol Help Center Community, and in responses to our latest customer survey, we received several requests for the ability for volunteers and staff users to note their pronouns within the iCarol system.
We’re excited to announce that sharing one’s pronouns in their volunteer/staff profile is a new enhancement that will be included in our latest release to iCarol. This release is expected to go into affect today, Tuesday, June 14.
Enabling and using pronouns in iCarol is easy. If a volunteer or staff member would like to share their pronouns, they should first edit their profile, then choose their pronouns from the dropdown menu, and click the ‘Save’ button.
Once enabled, a user’s pronouns will appear alongside their name throughout the different areas of iCarol where knowing a person’s pronouns will help you communicate and address them as they wish to be addressed, such as the main Contacts page.
And when viewing shifts.
Learning and then using a person’s correct pronouns creates a healthy and safe workplace environment, conveys respect, and affirms one’s identity. We hope this enhancement will help you and your team support one another and foster inclusion within your organization! If you have any questions, please open a ticket with our Support Team using the iCarol Help Center!
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)
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced a $282 million investment to help transition the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from its current 10-digit number to a three-digit dialing code – 988.
Once implemented, the 988 code is intended to be a first step toward transforming crisis care in the United States by creating a universal entry point to needed crisis services in line with access to other emergency medical services.
With funds from the Biden-Harris Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget and additional funds from the American Rescue Plan, SAMHSA’s $282 million investment will support 988 efforts across the country to shore up, scale up and staff up, including:
- $177 million to strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline network operations and telephone infrastructure, including centralized chat/text response, backup center capacity, and special services (e.g., a sub-network for Spanish language-speakers).
- $105 million to build up staffing across states’ local crisis call centers.
Click here to read more about this funding announcement.
The team at iCarol is excited to see the commitment and investment on behalf of the US government towards the 988 initiative. We believe that 988 will improve accessibility and equity for Americans seeking emotional support and assistance. By designating a three-digit number for suicide prevention and mental health crises, our leaders send a clear message that these concerns deserve the same immediate attention and access to assistance as a physical health emergency, while also reducing harmful stigmas that create barriers to treatment. As the leading software provider among the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network of centers, we stand ready to support our customers making the transition to answering 988, and welcome new centers coming on board for the 988 initiative.
The iCarol Support Team holds monthly trainings on topics that our customers want more information about. These trainings are offered on the third Wednesday of every month at 2pm Eastern.
Our topic for the December webinar is ReferralQ & Capacity Tracking and Provider Portal features.
ReferralQ and Capacity Tracking enables you to document and track referrals to a particular service that you work closely with, including information such as the service’s capacity to accept referrals. The Provider Portal is a separate product that complements ReferralQ by inviting your partners secure, direct access to view and update authorized ReferralQ information. With the Provider Portal your partners can input their program’s capacity to take referrals, obtain Contact Record or Intake information about the help-seekers referred to them, and update the status of a referred help-seeker as they work with the CBO.
We’re excited to share more information about these products with our customers on our next monthly training webinar!
Date: Wednesday, December 15
Time: 2pm Eastern
During this webinar, participants will learn:
- What is the ReferralQ & Capacity Tracking feature?
- What is the Provider Portal feature?
- How can these features be used together?
- What are some use cases for the features?
We welcome and encourage our customers to attend! You can find the registration link on the Admin Dashboard or in our Help Center announcements.
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 https://uofuhealth.org/call-up.
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
Data shows that when specialists respond to mental health crises, everyone is safer and outcomes are better. That’s why communities everywhere are investing in crisis intervention teams as an alternative to 9-1-1 and law enforcement in response to crisis, suicide ideation, homelessness, substance abuse, and more.
One way iCarol organizations are improving their workflows around Mobile Crisis Dispatch is by using Public Web Forms.
Our Public Web Forms are essentially a public-facing version of the same forms our customers use internally in the iCarol web application to log their contacts with clients, collect data, and provide resource and referral information. When placed on a website, these forms can be used for purposes such as intake and eligibility screening or service requests. Once a form is submitted by the web visitor, it arrives in the iCarol system as a completed Contact Form where it can be dispositioned as appropriate by contact center staff, and work with other elements of iCarol to take their purpose even further.
One example of how our customers use Public Web Forms is for Mobile Crisis Team dispatch. In a traditional workflow, someone in need of Mobile Crisis might call the contact center, and a specialist will process their request and complete an intake form over the phone, print it, and fax it to a team who will respond in person. In some centers using disparate systems for different departments, they may even encounter processes where paper or electronic forms are passed between departments requiring specialist to do manual data entry for their data collection.
A Crisis Team Dispatch workflow using a Public Web Form may look something like this:
- A crisis services provider has a web page outlining their Mobile Crisis offerings, and places the link to a request form on the web page.
- The person requesting response fills out the form, configured by the provider, requesting services and providing information about the situation.
- If certain criteria must be met in order to request services via form, a pre-screening element can be built in which directs the person to call instead and speak to a specialist live, if they don’t meet the eligibility requirements to submit a form online.
- Submitted forms arrive in the iCarol system and certain staff are notified of submission by email.
- The specialist opens the form, contacts the requestor if necessary to fill in additional information, and explain to the requestor what will happen next.
- The form is shared with the team providing the direct Mobile Crisis response. In iCarol, forms can sent in many ways: password protected and emailed within the system, sent to a secure Provider Portal for responders to access, transmitted electronically to another software system, are just a few examples.
- The crisis team receives the necessary information, and responds.
- The crisis team can then disposition the visit according to their protocols, and can add additional data to the form electronically to close the loop and provide the contact center with outcome data and more.
This is just one way Public Web Forms are being used, and we look forward to bringing you more of these stories in the coming days.
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
Returning to school and beginning a new academic year can cause feelings of anxiety and uncertainty in any circumstances, but the impact of COVID-19 makes the event extra stressful on students, parents, and educators alike.
Each year, Mental Health America releases a back to school toolkit aimed at helping people start the new school year right with healthy habits and an awareness of stress and mental health. MHA focuses on the need to prioritize mental health and emotional well-being so that all students can thrive both in and out of the school setting.
The 2021 Toolkit is titled Facing Fears, Supporting Students and contains hands-on materials such as:
- Fact sheets for parents and teachers
- Fact sheets for children and teens
- Key messages and statistics
- Sample articles and social media posts
- and more!
The 2021 Mental Health America Back to School Toolkit is available now on the Mental Health America website.
Download the Toolkit
iCarol is very proud and excited to be an exhibitor at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) virtual conference and tradeshow July 19-22.
This will be iCarol’s third year in attendance at n4a, and second year exhibiting virtually. We are excited to once again celebrate the work of Area Agencies on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) and continue to be amazed at how these organizations have responded and provided continuity of services amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Older adults and those with health conditions are particularly vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, but maintaining social connections and other services under social distance has been critical to these individuals. These organizations have stepped up in amazing ways to provide consistency and reassurance.
At our virtual n4a 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 virtual booth to learn more, download the resources we have available, and contact us with your questions!