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.
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!
For the last two years society has been living through a pandemic and through it all many people are realizing that stress, isolation, and uncertainty have taken a toll on their well-being.
May is Mental Health Month, and organizations around the world are sharing information about how to obtain and maintain good mental health.
Each year since 1949, Mental Health America and their affiliates have led observance of Mental Health Month. This includes release of an annual Mental Health Month toolkit, which you can download here. They also have a number of resources available on their Mental Health Month web page, this year focusing on Back to Basics — practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase their resiliency regardless of their personal situation. Topics include:
- Terms to Know
- Starting to Think About Mental Health
- What Plays a Role in Developing Mental Health Conditions?
- Maintaining Good Mental Health
- Recognizing When You Need Help with Your Mental Health
- What To Do When You Need Help
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is promoting their core message of eliminating stigma, by sharing our stories and the message that those who many be having mental health difficulties or experiencing mental illness are not alone. Mental health conditions affect approximately 1 in 5 individuals during a given year.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has a number of articles and resources available in recognition of Canada’s Mental Health Week (May 2-8) which are available here. Every May for the last 71 years, Canadians in communities, schools, workplaces and the House of Commons have rallied around CMHA Mental Health Week. This year’s theme is Empathy. CMHA states:
It’s the capacity we share as human beings to step into each other’s shoes. To understand where they’re coming from and what they’re feeling. To listen hard and refuse to judge. It’s also one way to reduce and resolve conflict. #GetReal about how to help. Before you weigh in, tune in.
We hope during this Mental Health Month, our blog readers will take the time to engage with these and other mental health leaders to learn more and promote better mental health for all people, especially as we continue to navigate COVID-19, its aftermath, and recovery.
The Autism Society of North Carolina is currently looking to fill the position of Advocacy Database Specialist.
The Advocacy Database Specialist will manage and develop information on resources available to support people with autism, their families and the professionals who serve them in North Carolina. This staff person would be responsible for ASNC’s iCarol database and online resource directory including development, entry, and maintenance of community resource listings, database reporting functions, monitoring quality and accuracy of all database information, and training and supporting users of the iCarol Connection and Resource system. The position supports the Advocacy Departments work by assisting department staff with administrative duties.
This job is a partial work from home, and partial work from one of our regional offices, so you must be close enough to one of our office locations to commute as well. For a list of locations, click on your county and see if a local office location is listed https://www.autismsociety-nc.org/find-help/#
Essential Duties and Responsibilities include:
- Operate the web-based information and referral database used by staff as well as the online Resource Directory used by the public. Determines appropriate means by which to accomplish this integral responsibility.
- Research, enter and update statewide listings of community resources for people on the autism spectrum and their families.
- Contact community organizations by phone and email to verify information.
- Review and edit written content for grammar, spelling errors, and length.
- Attach standardized classification system terminology to resource entries using the AIRS standardized taxonomy for human resources, as well as develop effective search keywords.
- Develop and utilize content formatting and standardization rules, resource updating processes, other database policies, and training materials.
- Communicate changes in database program services to staff and public.
- Assist staff to help local ASNC chapters and support groups with the publication of local community resource guides.
- Develop new and creative ways to use database and its information to further the mission of ASNC.
- Review database system contacts entries for accuracy and problem solve with supervisory staff to improve data collection.
- Train and support iCarol Connection system users.
- Assist staff with development of system reports for internal and external audiences.
- Assist Advocacy Department staff with administrative support work including but not limited to preparing and maintaining state lobbying reports, preparing ASNC info packets for elected officials, maintaining evaluation records, chapter volunteer background checks and availability of volunteers, compiling information and updating records, mailing packets of materials including Welcome Packets, securing locations and handling logistics for events, taking notes at meetings, arranging travel and other duties as assigned.
- Other duties as assigned in support of the mission of the organization.
- Attention to detail: is thorough when performing work; double checking for accuracy of information to ensure precision and high quality of work.
- Time management and task prioritization skills; can set priorities and adjust them as needed to meet urgent needs.
- Ability to problem solve; can analyze, develop solutions, test results, and use feedback to make modifications.
- Excellent writing skills with an emphasis on correct grammar and the ability to summarize and edit written content. Skills testing may be a requirement of employment.
- Superior computer skills: Use of MS Office Suite and internet research skills required; familiarity with information and referral databases and/or standardized taxonomy is preferred. Computer skills tests may be a requirement of employment.
- Able to use excellent customer service skills to interact by phone, email/letter, or in person with a diverse array of community resource organizations, families, individuals on the autism spectrum and other stakeholders.
- Acceptance of feedback from a variety of stakeholders and the ability to use to improve performance.
Bachelor’s degree (B. A.) from a four-year college or university in human services, library and information sciences, database management, or related field and one year of experience in customer service, research, and/or data entry; or an Associate’s degree in one of the above fields and two years related experience; or a High school diploma and an equivalent combination of education and experience.
Monitor, coordinate and instruct volunteers and/or interns
Learn More and Apply
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)
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.
It’s hard to believe that soon we’ll be closing out yet another year. The passage of time has felt especially fast lately. The year prior, everything was exceptionally strange and most agree 2020 far overstayed its welcome. By comparison, the months each felt only a few days long throughout 2021.
For our customers, 2021 was another year where you were asked to do more for your communities than ever before, stretching your resources as much as possible to meet emergent and rapidly evolving needs. Many of our customer organizations continued to play a critical roll in COVID-19 response, for example contracting with local health authorities to take calls for COVID-19 hotlines and in many cases assisting with vaccine rollout efforts. As a result, you have improved the health of your communities and helped save lives. We couldn’t be more proud or honored to be associated with the amazing work you do.
The global pandemic advanced the need for communities to solve problems by coordinating efforts between agencies to reduce duplication of work and ease participation for consumers of services, all while collecting and sharing important data to prove impact that drives creation of new services and the funding to make it happen. As a result, we’ve received more requests than ever before from customers who need to participate in health information exchanges, securely pass intake information to a partner, and close the loop on outcomes and results of the services received. We’re delighted that our customers are making use of iCarol’s flexibility to help you leverage your data and say “yes” to these projects, and it has motivated us to continue to stay ahead of the innovation happening in these areas. Meeting your needs with technology, and giving you options in how you can engage with others to help your communities, will always be something that drives us here at iCarol.
Looking ahead, we know that the impacts of COVID will be with us for a long time to come, and so we’re prepared to continue brainstorming solutions with you as needs evolve. We expect the mental health and economic impacts to reverberate for years to come, which means your core services providing listening and empathy, connection to helpful services, and crisis intervention will be more important than ever. It’s appropriate timing that the U.S. will launch three digit dialing for suicide prevention and mental/behavioral health crises in the form of 9-8-8, coming in July of 2022. We’ve spoken to many organizations who will be participating 988 centers asking us how iCarol can assist. We’re committed to helping this new network meet its goals of creating better, more comprehensive mental and behavioral health systems and look forward to those continuing conversations, your ideas, and finally seeing 9-8-8 become a reality in July.
In envisioning new and better ways for the systems of care to work, we understand that your work is growing less transactional and more about seeing someone through a situation long term, building a relationship and being a part of their network of support. To that end, you may recall we asked you some questions a few months back about your case management needs and how well they are being served by us. We’re excited to say that thanks to your feedback, we’ve discovered several areas where we can improve and add tools to iCarol that will help you do this work better. To learn a bit more about this, I hope you’ll join our upcoming annual “State of iCarol” webinar in January where we’ll share some of what we have in mind for these sorts of developments in 2022. Stay tuned to the blog, and watch your iCarol Dashboard and email inbox for an invite. If you don’t already get our emails, I hope you’ll sign up here so we can stay in touch with you.
I hope that each of you, and your entire teams, can take time to be with the people and do the things that are most meaningful and rejuvenating for you. We see you, your dedication to your work of helping others and improving the world around you, and the clear positive impact you have. We look forward to another year serving you and wish you a happy holiday season and a bright New Year.
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
According to a recently published report in USA Today, the child care industry in the United States has been one of the industries hit hardest by worker shortages. The closing of most day care centers early in the pandemic resulted in over 373,000 employees laid off or furloughed. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the industry has only recovered 70% of its pre-pandemic workforce.
The childcare staff shortage has caused childcare centers to be stretched thin, forced to reduce capacity and often increasing costs for parents and caregivers. Childcare workers bear a heavy workload due to the shortage, and parents unable to find affordable and reliable childcare must often leave the workforce themselves.
Click here to read the full report.