Today, in an email to its subscribers and supporters, Mental Health America announced a new website resource: Mental Health During Global Conflict.
Mental Health America shares:
As we bear witness to the horrific images and the bottomless grief emerging from Israel and Gaza, we fear the next global mental health emergency unfolding before us. Millions will carry the scars of this time for generations to come – it is unavoidable.
In the U.S., we see and hear the ongoing terror and trauma of those in physical harm’s way through the inescapable proximity of our social media feeds. The scale of fear and sadness is impossible for most to fathom – however for millions of Americans with direct ties to the regions, the pain can be acute to unbearable. And now close to home we worry for the safety of our friends and loved ones as hate-based and religious attacks spill over into our communities.
In our mission to support mental health and resilience for all and to prioritize those at disparate risk, Mental Health America is responding to this moment by offering a new collection of mental health resources for times of crisis. With the increasing frequency of collectively traumatizing events, such as war, we recognize the need for mental health-specific preparation.
The Mental Health During Global Conflict page includes information on common emotional responses and ways to cope. It also includes additional resources from MHA and its trusted partners regarding many challenges individuals face during war, which includes:
- Supporting youth
- Dealing with traumatic online and news content
- Self-care during direct advocacy work
- Community care
- Understanding trauma
- Coping with fear, anger, and grief
- Sexual violence
Mental Health America President and CEO, Schroeder Stribling closes out the announcement saying:
Safety is a basic human need. Peace is protective. While we may be far from peace at present, for the sake of our collective mental health and that of our children, we must support ourselves and one another in understanding and coping with the impact of war, trauma, and crises.
We stand in sorrow with all who are grieving and in solidarity with all who are working for an end to violence.
Click here to access the Mental Health During Global Conflict page.
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.
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.
Next week, beginning on Monday, August 21st and lasting through Thursday, August 24th our Solutions Expert, Aaron Young, will be at the National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC) in San Francisco, California.
We first attended this national conference in 2017, though organizations that address sexual violence and help sexual assault survivors have long been a part of the iCarol family. Our first experience at NSAC was exciting and inspiring; we were thrilled by the number of talented and passionate advocates we met. They do invaluable work toward awareness, breaking the silence around rape and sexual assault, preventing violence, and helping those affected by sexual violence heal from their trauma. In the years that followed we welcomed a number of new organizations serving this space into the iCarol network of users, and the Victims Services industry is one of the fastest growing within the iCarol family. We’re eager to attend the conference again this year so we can meet more people doing this amazing work, reconnect with those we met earlier, and show everyone some of the latest solutions we offer to enhance service delivery to survivors.
So, why is iCarol a popular choice with Victim Services agencies who serve people impacted by sexual or intimate partner or domestic violence, human trafficking, and other forms of victimization or abuse?
Some of the top reasons this is such a fast growing industry for iCarol are…
- Integrated Live Chat and SMS/Texting – This communication channel is in high demand among those affected by forms of abuse. It’s silent, can be anonymous, and for many people they find it easier to “talk” about this difficult subject through writing rather than speaking out loud. With iCarol you can offer Live Chat or SMS/Texting services through the same platform you use to document your calls and collect data needed for funding, dispatch SAFE accompaniment, offer referrals, manage and track your clients, and all the other services you use in your iCarol system.
- Specialized Messaging – iCarol is also an inherently better choice for Live Chat/SMS channels than a generic, out-of-the-box product because of some of the other tools and features elsewhere in this list. Because iCarol has other tools designed specifically for social and human service organizations. That includes built-in risk assessments, triaging, ability to enroll them in programs and services, provide and track resource and referral access, and working with clients over a period of time and not a transactional relationship more common in customer service style interactions.
- Privacy and Confidentiality Issues – We understand the unique needs of victims services organizations and how those also play into the safety of the person contacting your organization. All throughout iCarol we offer settings that allow you to decide if or how data is tracked, if Chat/Text conversation transcripts are saved, what data should be digitally “shredded” and after what period of time, etc. We also use the latest and most secure methods of data hosting, architecture, and encryption.
And of course there’s lots more that make our solution a top choice among victim service organizations. If you haven’t already, check out our free eBook on Choosing Software for Survivor Support Services which walks you through the top needs of victims services organizations and helps you organize your thoughts and research around choosing technology that’s best for you.
Download the eBook
If you’re going to be at the NSAC conference, please stop by the iCarol booth (#110) and say “hello.” We’re looking forward to the opportunity to answer your questions and hear more about the amazing work you’re doing for sexual violence survivors in your community and beyond.
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!
From Wednesday, July 26 through Friday, July 28, 2023, iCarol will exhibit at the National Council on Problem Gambling’s annual National Conference on Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling, to be held in Washington, D.C.
iCarol is the technology provider for the National Council’s 24 hour 1-800-GAMBLER hotline services offered through Chat and SMS/Text. Through the use of NCPG affiliates, this national hotline is staffed 24/7/365 with all calls, chats, and text messages being routed to an affiliate organization serving the help-seeker’s region. Using iCarol’s common messaging queue, all chat and SMS/Text messages are routed to the designated center so that the proper affiliate organization can answer, respond, and provide assistance to those in need.
This industry has experienced a number of changes due to the proliferation of sports betting since 2018 when the United States Supreme Court struck down a law that had prevented most states from allowing sports betting.
Since that law was deemed unconstitutional, nearly 2/3 of US States have begun allowing sports betting, resulting in over $220 billion dollars spent by Americans on bets in the last 5 years.
From the article:
Those treating compulsive gambling say calls to their hotlines seeking help have increased significantly in the five years since sports betting was legalized and made available on cell phones. Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, says calls to the 800-GAMBLER help line have increased by 15% over the last five years as “states began the fastest and largest expansion of gambling in our history.”
The National Council on Problem Gambling does not take a position for or against legalized gambling, according to its mission and values. Instead, it serves as an advocate to mitigate gambling-related harm — advocating for those who are effected by problem gambling, promoting collaborative action of a broad range of people and organizations, treating those affected by problem gambling with respect, and striving to be an objective, accurate and reliable source of information for those who are concerned about problem gambling.
We look forward to the opportunity to support NCPG’s efforts and mission by attending the conference next week. iCarol is always happy to invite new NCPG affiliates to join the 1-800-GAMBLER network. If your problem gambling advocacy organization would like to learn more, please speak to us during exhibition hours at the conference, or schedule a meeting with us!
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.
From June 13-15, 2023, iCarol will participate and hold virtual exhibit space as part of the Texas Suicide Prevention Symposium.
This is our second year participating in the event and we look forward to engaging with professionals working to prevent suicide in Texas. There are numerous exciting projects and initiatives happening in the state. Texas has an impressive suicide prevention collaborative made up of nearly 40 community centers working to serve the entire state, including many who operate 988 as a primary or backup center.
We encourage you to visit our virtual exhibit booth using the Whova app. At our booth you can download several materials about how iCarol is serving suicide prevention centers including 988 centers, and the tools and technology available when you work with iCarol. Our virtual booth will be staffed during conference hours – please chat in with your questions and we’ll promptly respond! If you’d like to meet with us another time to learn more, please schedule a meeting at your convenience.
We’ve just added a new resource you may be interested in! Click the image below to download our newest eBook: Choosing Software for Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.
This resource is designed to help program directors and other leaders at Child Care Resource and Referral agencies wevaluate their needs for software to help them in their work connecting parents and caregivers with the best child care providers to meet their needs. We’ve even included a checklist that helps them see if the software they’re currently using or considering meets these needs.