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.
Guest blogger Sidhra Musani is Program Manager at Dr. Shabaz Charity Group
Guest blog views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of CharityLogic/iCarol, or iCarol’s parent company, Harris Computer Systems.
Help Us Launch Our Mental Health Helpline to Support the Greater Minnesota
Community by December 2022!
Sukoon: Healing of the Minds is an initiative that aims to provide support and resources for
minds in distress in a culturally informed manner, particularly for underserved and
marginalized communities. It’s designed to help individuals from all walks of life cope when
they are struggling with their mental health and wellness, regardless of their background,
situation or needs. So everyone can get the help they need, with confidentiality and empathy,
without fear of judgment or stigma.
Our Helpline Will Serve 7 Days a Week!
The helpline will be open and available to the local community 7 days a week. Individuals
can call/text the line anytime between 8 PM and 8 AM for anonymous and free support. Our
culturally informed and trained respondents will respond by seeking to listen, understand,
support, encourage, and assist as needed. Referrals to practitioners, support groups, local
agencies, and other relevant resources will also be provided to connect the caller/texter with
potential next steps.
What sets us apart? Empathy with Cultural Understanding.
Did you know that BIPOC communities in particular are much more likely to develop mental
health conditions? Among the major barriers for treatment are lack of access to culturally
informed mental health treatment and the gaping demand for understanding the unique
mental health needs of those communities. Cultural challenges get in the way, and anxiety as
well as stigma prevent people from reaching out. Our diverse team of respondents
understands those cultural challenges and struggles. As the organization works to develop
specialized care services, our aim is for individuals to begin their journey to healing through
this helpline with informed respondents who can understand and validate their experiences
(through mutual lived experiences). All respondents are trained to help with the following
- Grief & Loss
- Mental Health Challenges
- Cultural and Religious issues
- Financial Stress
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Child Abuse or Neglect
- Substance Use & Abuse
- Sexual Assault
- Identity Crisis
About the Organization
Dr. Shabaz Charity Group (DSCG) is a nonprofit organization that aims to create specialized
programming, increase awareness, and provide resources to strengthen the mental, physical
and emotional health and wellness of our greater Minnesota community. Our focus is to
bridge the gap in providing culturally informed resources and mental health services to
minority communities. Please help us provide these resources by donating to our campaign!
The Dr. Shabaz Charity Group is non-profit charity organization with 501(c)(3) status. All
donations are tax deductible.
Want to support this work with a one-time donation? Donate HERE
Interested in becoming a monthly donor? Check out our $100 or $10 monthly campaigns.
Want to learn more about the work we’re doing, check out our website HERE.
Have any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns, please do contact us at
email@example.com or give us a call at 612-282-5150.
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.
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.
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.
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:
And here’s what’s NEW:
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.
Get In Touch!
Email Us Schedule a Meeting
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
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