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US Department of Health and Human Services Announces Critical Investments to Implement Upcoming 988 Dialing Code for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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.

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“It’s a Wonderful Life” and Imagining a World Without Helplines

This blog was originally published in December 2020. As this pandemic rages on, the message remains relevant, and so we’re sharing it with you again to mark the 2021 holiday season.

Content warning: This post discusses sensitive topics such as suicide and abuse.

In a year as strange and relentless as 2020, I needed a sense of normalcy more than ever this holiday season, and that came in the form of my annual viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In years’ past, the film’s theme of suicide prevention struck me most. But like a lot of things, the experience of 2020 placed a new filter over the movie for me, and I started noticing elements that, while always there, hadn’t been as noticeable to me before.

The crises of 2020 were relentless. And when the bad news just keeps coming and it feels there’s no end in sight, no clear solution or relief, it can be easy to fall into total despair. George Bailey experiences this very thing in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George passed on his own dreams so the dreams of others could be realized and those he loved could be happy, and for awhile he appears okay with that. Then a series of crises compound, and old trauma and resentments quickly rise to the surface. George, completely devoid of hope and solutions, is now staring into the icy churning waters of a river flowing beneath him. For all his good deeds and sacrifices, look at how bad things are. What was it all for? He contemplates how the world might be better off if he wasn’t here, or if he never existed at all.

George’s scenario got me thinking about the exhaustive work so many people have been doing all throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, only to have things stay the same, or get worse, day in and day out, with no relief in sight. When there’s no clear impact or positive change to motivate you, to reassure you that your sacrifices and work matters, how do you keep going? How do you resist despair and hopelessness?

I think the answer is similar to what we see in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George can’t see his positive impact until he’s shown a world without him in it. Perhaps we need to briefly imagine what the world would look like without those forces of good working hard to help others.

What would our world look like now if helplines, contact centers, and other community services didn’t exist?

Contact centers and Information and Referral services like 2-1-1 commonly act as their community’s primary source of information about COVID-19, providing information on everything from common symptoms to look for and where to go to get tested. In many cases 2-1-1 became the official state/provincial source of COVID-19 information. Without that centralized information delivery service, health departments, emergency rooms, and medical offices are overwhelmed with people seeking information. Phone lines jam and human resources are syphoned from direct care treating those who are ill. Fewer people know where to get tested. More people get sick, and more lives are lost as a result.

The economic fallout from the pandemic will be with us for some time. Some say the financial recovery may take longer than public health recovery. Thankfully, people looking for financial assistance for their very survival—help with utilities or food—had places to reach. Places where a compassionate and knowledgeable specialist could, in a single interaction, provide ideas and resources that may help with several needs. Without those contact centers, those in need are left feeling lost and overwhelmed. Already worn down by their situation, they must now spend time and effort navigating the network of community services on their own. They don’t know how the systems work. They are frustrated and even more overwhelmed. It takes longer to access assistance. They miss several meals. They only find out about a fraction of the services for which they were eligible.

Quarantines and stay-at-home orders kept people at home more, and for many the people they live with are a source of comfort. For others, it’s a source of conflict or even danger. Suddenly, vulnerable individuals suffering abuse at the hands of a parent or partner, or LGBTQIA youth living with unsupportive family members, were cut off from their daily escapes and support systems. Without services specializing in providing safety and emotional support, they become more isolated. Tensions in the household rise. Abused partners and Queer youth have no professional confidential counseling to access quietly and privately through chats or text messages. There’s no emergency shelter to escape to.

Viruses and physical health have taken center stage this year, but the mental health toll is undeniable. We’ve been going through a collective, worldwide trauma. Everything familiar was disrupted and the entire concept of “normal” disappeared overnight. Many people are experiencing emotions they aren’t sure what to do with, and they aren’t ready to talk to their friends or loved ones. Others lack those connections and are processing things all on their own. Imagine a world without an outlet to help one cope with those feelings. No warmlines or impartial empathetic listeners, no crisis or suicide prevention services. The emotional suffering deepens and spreads, and we lose even more people to a different type of pandemic—suicide—that was present long before COVID-19.

So yes, 2020 was the worst, filled with more crises happening all at once than many of us could have imagined. And in a seemingly never-ending string of challenges, it may feel at times like your contributions, all your exhaustive efforts, aren’t making a dent. If reassurance and evidence of your impact seems elusive, think back to George Bailey’s tour of seedy Pottersville, the bad place version of Bedford Falls. Close your eyes and take a stroll through that scary, imaginary world without organizations like yours, and see that things could actually be much worse. It’s because of the good work of those who care, like you, that it isn’t.

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December Support Training: Referral Q Capacity Tracking and Provider Portal

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.

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This is a game changer – iCarol’s Resource Database API is now fully bi-directional

iCarol bidirectional resource api

Did you know that iCarol’s Resource Database API is now fully bi-directional?

What does this mean? iCarol Resource database records can now be created and/or updated using the API.

iCarol was a pioneer among the I&R and Contact Center Software vendors with our Resource Database API, which was first released in 2013.

We’ve done it again with these new enhancements that can now be done outside of iCarol, directly into to your iCarol Resource database using the Resource Database API:

  • Update, create, or delete resource records from external software systems
      Save time, increase efficiency, get new records from your partners quicker than ever—when time is of the essence

  • Decide to have new records and updates happen automatically, or as part of an automated verification process
      Maintain necessary control of how you want the partnerships to work, while having flexibility to change quickly as needed

  • And we’ve continued with the ability we’ve always had where you can provide different partners different key access with different permissions

Here are just some possibilities that have been discussed with this new enhancement:

  • Open the door to partnership ideas and revenue streams that were not possible before

  • Feed data to warehouses and/or reporting tools and accept changes to the records in iCarol from those external sources

  • Partner with other referral partners who may be on other information and referral software, in more ways than ever before

  • Allow more options to health and human service partners who need direct access your resource database and need to let you know of new additions and changes themselves

  • Make yourself more marketable to healthcare providers/for healthcare partnerships who may be interested in access to your resource database, and may want easier options to let you know of changes to resources

  • Collaboration, coalition and Community Information Exchange (CIE) efforts can be even more streamlined

An overview of capabilities that have been available for some time with the iCarol Resource API:

iCarol Resource API search details and public comments


And here’s what’s NEW:

iCarol API update method workflow

Now is the perfect time to explore what iCarol’s Bi-direction Resource API can do for your organization and your partners.

Are you a current iCarol user? As we’ve previously shared, our November Support Training is about the API! Join our webinar Wednesday, November 17th at 2:00pm Eastern. Register by signing in to iCarol and opening the iCarol Help Center where the webinar description and registration link is posted as an Announcement.

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Utah CALL-UP Uses iCarol Public Web Forms to Connect Physicians with Psychiatric Consultation

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

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Postpartum Support International seeks Data Manager/Quality Improvement Specialist

Postpartum Support International (PSI) is searching for a qualified candidate to join their team in the role of Data Manager/Quality Improvement Specialist.

PSI is looking for someone to manage the Case Management Software and HelpLine reporting. This is a work-from-home position and is fully remote. You are the sole Data Manager/Quality Improvement Specialist in the organization, providing database and quality improvement management, and communicating with non-technical staff and board in our non-profit organization.

Resourcefulness is a necessary skill in this role. You should be able to diagnose and resolve problems quickly. You should also have the ability to communicate with a variety of interdisciplinary teams and users, and the ability to show patience along with a clear understanding of technical issues while explaining in clear terms to non-technical staff. Candidates must be comfortable in an environment that priorities diversity, equity, and inclusion, and in an organization that works to address systemic inequities.

Your goal will be to ensure that our technology and network infrastructure runs smoothly and efficiently, and to coordinate with a variety of internal stakeholders regarding the specifics of their web pages, database information, and related technical systems.

The Data Manager/Quality Improvement Specialist reports to the Hotline Project Director and works collaboratively with other staff, board members, and Case Management System vendor to implement strategic solutions.

Primary responsibilities include:

  • Manage and optimize Case Management Software application, status, and improvements for HelpLine/Hotline Operation
  • Devise and establish database management and quality improvement systems to support the implementation of organizational strategies
  • Oversee database management and quality improvement, monitor key performance indicators, and evaluate them according to established goals
  • Research and implement technical improvements and solutions to database system and communication integration
  • Monitor performance and maintain systems according to requirements
  • Make recommendations to improve key performance indicators
  • Troubleshoot issues and outages, work with team to respond to surges or natural disasters
  • Develop expertise to assist in staff and volunteer training in case management system
  • Assist in the development of internal documentation of database case management systems
  • Resolve technical issues, detect patterns of occurrences and coordinate with staff regarding handling resolutions to persistent problems
  • Manage data collection, surveys and reports, including monthly and ad-hoc reports, as needed
  • Contributes to the interpretation of data analysis and reports. Presents findings in easy-to-understand terms.
  • Use on demand and ad hoc queries and reports to review, monitor, and report on evaluation outcomes

In order to qualify for the role, the ideal candidate will possess the following experience:

  • Database management: 2 years (Required)
  • Quality management: 2 years (Required)
  • QA/QC: 2 years (Required)
  • English (Required)
  • US work authorization (Required)
  • Bachelor’s (Preferred)
  • Microsoft Excel: 5 years (Preferred)
  • Survey design: 1 year (Preferred)
  • Network monitoring: 1 year (Preferred)
  • One to three years of related experience is required
  • Experience working with data management systems and reports. Experience with iCarol CMS preferred.
  • Experience with data collection, entry, quality assurance, visualization, and reporting
  • Experience with survey and assessment design
  • High level of computer proficiency
  • Degree in social science, statistics, or a related field

This remote work position pays a salary of $70,000 USD per year and benefits include: Health and Vision Insurance and Health Savings Account; Tuition Reimbursement; Employee Discount; Retirement; Paid Leave, and more.

This blog contains highlights and excerpts from the job posting. Click the button below to learn more and apply for this position.

Learn More and Apply

iCarol is posting this career opportunity on behalf of Postpartum Support International. Postpartum Support International is an equal opportunity employer. Postpartum Support International will not discriminate and will take measures to ensure against discrimination in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the bases of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. www.postpartum.net

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Using iCarol Public Web Forms to Dispatch Mobile Crisis Teams

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:

  1. 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.
  2. The person requesting response fills out the form, configured by the provider, requesting services and providing information about the situation.
  3. 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.
  4. Submitted forms arrive in the iCarol system and certain staff are notified of submission by email.
  5. The specialist opens the form, contacts the requestor if necessary to fill in additional information, and explain to the requestor what will happen next.
  6. 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.
  7. The crisis team receives the necessary information, and responds.
  8. 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?

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SAMHSA Awards $825 Million in Grants to Strengthen Community Mental Health Centers

logo for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the United States

The following is being shared via a SAMHSA press release.

Following up on its commitment to invest $825 million in Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is announcing the distribution of funds to 231 CMHCs across the country.

The funding, which comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021 and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplement (CRRS) Act of 2021, reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to supporting and expanding access to mental health and behavioral support as Americans continue to confront the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CMHCs are community-based facilities or groups of facilities that provide prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation mental health services. This grant program will enable … Read More

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Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline featured in local media for Suicide Prevention Month

logo for the idaho suicide prevention hotline

In the nearly nine years since first launching, the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline has responded to more than 78,000 calls, texts and chats.

Today the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline was featured in a special report by KTVB 7 news in Boise, which highlighted their services and impact on the community.

Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline Director Lee Flinn shared that, “Idaho’s suicide rate right now is 46% higher than the national rate. So it’s quite high…We really are here for anyone who is in crisis, whether it’s a suicidal crisis or a different kind of crisis, and we want people to know that we’re always here and we’re always ready to listen.”

The volume of incoming requests for help is increasing, with August bringing in the most contacts to date. And while helping a record number of people is keeping their 80 volunteers and staff busier than ever, Lee Flinn feels it’s a good sign, saying, “it means that people are reaching out for help, and we want people to reach out for help.”

To watch the video and read the full story, visit the KTVB website.

When your organization is featured in the media, be sure to let me know so I can share it on our blog!

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Mental Health America releases 2021 Back to School Toolkit

high school students wearing masks

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
  • Worksheets
  • and more!

The 2021 Mental Health America Back to School Toolkit is available now on the Mental Health America website.

Download the Toolkit

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