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DMAX Clubs aim to end mental health stigma on college campuses

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Did you know that 87% of college students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and 39% feel so depressed it is difficult to function? (Source: American College Health Association, National College Health Assessment) DMAX Foundation seeks to improve those statistics by creating social clubs with a mental health focus on college campuses throughout the nation to enable students to talk to each other about how they are doing, and to help each other.

DMAX Foundation was started by Laurie and Lee Maxwell, after the tragic loss of their son, Dan, to suicide at the age of 18. Dan had been plagued with mental and emotional pain for eighteen months, without relief, before he took his life. He tried to get better in every way possible. He and his family saw physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists, tried medications and dietary changes, and conducted tireless research. One thing the Maxwells were not able to do is speak out. It was too difficult to confide in friends and relatives about what was happening inside their family.

Thus DMAX, named in Dan Maxwell’s honor (DMAX was the nickname his teammates gave him), was founded to eliminate stigma and encourage safe and caring conversations about mental and emotional issues in our youth. To accomplish these goals, DMAX is establishing Clubs on college campuses which provide environments for all students to get together and talk about how they are doing, how their friends are doing and how they can help each other. DMAX Club officers get the opportunity to build valuable leadership skills, are trained to recognize mental health emergencies, learn how to listen (versus give therapy), and extend the campus’ mental health resources by making referrals to the Counseling Center. While other college mental health organizations emphasize the importance of having conversations about mental wellness, DMAX is putting it into practice, providing the space and the tools for Conversations That Matter to take place.

DMAX Foundation is currently focused on establishing clubs in the Philadelphia and surrounding areas, with a plan to expand all over the country in the future. DMAX Clubs have been recently established at Penn State University and Drexel University, joining Elon University, which began in spring 2016.

You can help DMAX establish clubs throughout the nation by:

  • Joining DMAX’s mailing list
  • Making a tax-deductible donation
  • Volunteering
  • Attending DMAX events in the Philadelphia area
  • Sponsoring one of its events
  • Connecting DMAX Foundation with schools and students interested in starting DMAX Clubs

For more information about DMAX Foundation and opportunities to get involved, visit www.dmaxfoundation.org

Guest Blogger Kris Kelley serves as the Outreach and Administrative Coordinator for the DMAX Foundation.

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How to Report Speed Issues in iCarol

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If you are experiencing issues with your iCarol system that are difficult to describe, where information may not be populating, saving, or loading as quickly as you expect, it can be helpful to complete these 3 diagnostic tests prior to submitting a case to Support. The results of these tests may help us to eliminate local network issues, and find the root cause of the issue faster.

When you submit the case using the iCarol online Case Management Tool, please include the 3 screen shots, the time/date you completed these tests, and what browser you were using.

Test One: Complete a Speed Test

    1. Login to iCarol, as an affected user and reproduce the slowness issue
    2. In a separate browser window/tab, go to www.speedtest.net
    3. Click the “Change Server” link and type Toronto in the search text box
    4. Click on any of the Toronto, ON servers that appear in the list of search results
    5. Click the “GO” button, allow the test to complete and take a screen shot of the results (a full page screen shot is preferred, that will include the browser type and system time.)

Speedtest

Test Two: Complete a Trace Route to iCarol server in Command Prompt

    1. Open the Command Prompt window by clicking the MS Windows Start button, clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, and then clicking Command Prompt. (A new black background window should open.)
    2. Type in exactly, tracert webapp.icarol.com, and press Enter on your keyboard.
    3. Allow the Trace to complete, and take a screen shot of the results (do not close the window yet.)

Trace Route

To perform Test Two on Mac Computers

    1. Open Safari and enter http://pingtest.net in the Smart Search field.
    2. Click Begin test.
    3. An alert appears saying “Do you want to trust the website www.pingtest.net to use the “Java” plug in? Click Trust and then Run in the Do you want to run this application window.
    4. You should see your IP and ISP name at the bottom left of the globe. Check if this is correct.
    5. Click Being Test.
    For more information go to http://www.macworld.co.uk/how-to/mac/how-test-ping-on-your-mac-3524076/

Test Three: Complete a Ping to the iCarol server in Command Prompt

    1. Use the same Command Prompt window as opened in Test 2
    2. Type in exactly, ping webapp.icarol.com, and press Enter on your keyboard
    3. Allow the Ping to finish, and take a screen shot of the results.

Ping test

To perform Test Three on Mac Computers

In addition to the diagnostic tests above, it is useful to use a timer extension to see exactly where the slowness is occurring. A timer extension will break down the process of loading a page and tell you how long each step is taking. With this detail, you may be able to determine if the slowness is happening on the iCarol side, or if it may be an issue with your computer, internet or network speed.

Most browsers have a timer extension you can download and use. Some browsers may call these “extensions” or “add-ons”. Each browser will have a different name for these extensions or add-ons. For example, Google Chrome’s extension is called “Page load time”. The first step to using a timer extension or add-on is to find and download it. Once this is done, you will usually find the timer extension in the tool bar of your browser.

To use the timer extension to time page loads in iCarol, complete the following steps:

    1. Navigate to the page that is loading slowly
    2. Click the timer extension icon in the tool bar of your browser
    3. You should see a chart or a list of events or actions, and how long each of those events or actions took
    4. In general, it should not take more than 5 seconds to load a page in iCarol.
    The exception is when searching resources, especially if the resource database is very large; some resource searches can take up to 10-20 seconds.
    5. If the total load time for the page is greater than 5-10 seconds, refer to the timer extension chart or list to see where the most time was spent. Each timer extension will call the events or actions by a slightly different name, but there should be enough similarities to recognize the names of most of the events or actions between browsers.

Use the information below to determine if the issue is on iCarol’s side, or if the issue is with the computer, network, or internet service being used:

  • The iCarol servers are responsible for the Request and Response times
  • Slow Redirect, DNS or Connect times may indicate an issue with the internet connection or network being used
  • Slow DOM or Load Event times may indicate issues with the computer itself

If the issue seems to be with your computer, network, or internet connection, please consult with a member of your IT team or your internet service provider.

If the issue seems to be with iCarol’s servers, please take a screenshot of the timer extension results. Then have a designated Support Contact submit a case with the screenshot as an attachment, and an explanation of the slowness that is occurring.

Timer extension test

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Uniting our voices for National Suicide Prevention Week

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September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, marking the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week. During this week, millions of people will be speaking out about the impact suicide has on individuals, families, and communities, raising awareness and promoting messages on how best to prevent suicide. So many caring organizations worldwide will be adding their voices to this important message. In order to make the biggest and deepest impact, it’s helpful to unite around a common theme and messaging to amplify our voices.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is leading the way with a host of resources and information on their website to help organizations rally around a centralized theme of being there for others, a theme several well-known suicide prevention organizations have been promoting this year.

Be There Campaign

It’s a very simple yet powerful message, and it helps reinforce what we already know: Suicide prevention is everyone’s business, and we can all do something to help prevent suicide. Those of us who have worked at suicide prevention helplines know how effective the simple act of listening is. Just by being a sounding board, a safe place for someone to air their darkest thoughts without facing judgment, you can save a life. When a person knows that someone is willing to listen and offer their help or support and not be scared away by talk of suicide, they feel less isolated and alone with their thoughts, and can envision a better path forward.

In addition to rallying around messages of being there, the Action Alliance also encourages everyone to use #NSPW in their social media posts. This will boost all of our messages and ensures the topic trends online and receives the attention it deserves.

Visit the Action Alliance website for all the materials you need to participate. They have sample social media posts you can use, frames for your Facebook profile pic, and more. Don’t forget to join their Thunderclap, too. By signing up for the Thunderclap you can have your social media accounts post automatically at the exact same time as thousands of others across social media platforms. Click the image below to join.

Together we can bring lots of attention to National Suicide Prevention Week, and show people in need that they are loved, supported, and have a place to turn when needed.

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Concerned professionals share opinions on “13 Reasons Why”

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Since its debut on Netflix earlier this year, the drama “13 Reasons Why,” an adaptation of a young adult novel, has spurred much discussion among suicide prevention experts and mental health advocates.

The series follows the story of Hannah, a teenager who has recently died by suicide. As her parents, teachers and friends process the loss, Hannah’s close friend and crush, Clay, finds himself obsessed with Hannah’s death, what caused her to kill herself, and how it may have been prevented. He is plagued by the “what ifs” of their time together. A mysterious delivery sends Clay further down a path of grief, regret, and ultimately the start of healing and learning lessons from loss.

Some have praised the series for drawing awareness to the topic of suicide. “13 Reasons Why” is one of Netflix’s most watched programs of 2017 and has exposed people to suicide and the intense grief of survivors, and also issues like sexual assault, drug addiction, and bullying.

Unfortunately, the show is riddled with problematic content. Hannah’s suicide is romanticized, especially in the context of the star-crossed lovers relationship between Hannah and Clay. Suicide is portrayed as an acceptable method of revenge, and the revenge element often overshadows the complex and mounting reasons that Hannah took her own life. Opportunities to show how teens might reach out, and successfully receive help, are missed, and in fact it shows only how attempt’s to get help could go horribly wrong. Teenagers could construe this message as discouraging help-seeking from adults. Finally, and most upsetting, is the fact that Hannah’s suicide is graphically depicted, going against guidelines that suicide experts outline for the media. For a program aimed and marketed towards teens, who are particularly vulnerable to influence and suicide contagion, these are some dangerous missteps that overshadow any awareness message.

Suicide prevention experts and advocates have been speaking out about “13 Reasons Why” since it was released, and that includes Beau Pinkham, Director of Crisis Intervention Services at The Crisis Center of Johnson County, Iowa. In a recent Op-Ed, Beau lays out the dangers of the series’ depiction of suicide and the effects it is having. You can read Beau’s Op-Ed in the Des Moines Register here.

Have you watched “13 Reasons Why?” What were your thoughts? Please leave us a comment below.

The opinions expressed in this blog entry belong to the blog author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of iCarol Software management or its other employees

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Tonya attends World Religion Discovery Week

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From July 9-15, I attended World Religion Discovery week at the Encounter World Religions Centre at University of Toronto. The program had 48 attendees from all over North America who wanted to learn more about cultural diversity and belief systems. For me, it was about cultural diversity exploration. Their lectures were objective and were complemented by onsite visits to temples, synagogues, gurdwaras, churches, mosques and multi faith centres. The week was a smorgasbord of culture, music, food and kindness. It dispelled fears and myths that have recently been fueled by the media. I feel like I have traveled the world in my own backyard!World Religion Week

My conclusion is that, no matter what our belief system, we are all human and share the same genuine desire for peace, health and community. The week left an impression on my soul to continue to see the good in people and has restored my faith in humanity. Cultural diversity awareness = Priceless.

Learn more about this event at www.worldreligions.ca







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Learning about iCarol enhancements and other system news

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Communication is key in any relationship, and of course that includes iCarol’s relationship with our users!

Because iCarol is a web-based software, we roll out updates and enhancements to the platform regularly and seamlessly, without system downtime or the need for users to download and install anything. This is of great benefit to our users, though it presents a challenge to us to make sure our users are aware of these changes so they can understand and take advantage of them.

We communicate system news to people in a variety of ways, and the method will typically depend upon who it effects as well as the type of enhancement and its scope or level of impact. Often each enhancement is communicated using a number of methods and not just one.

iCarol Dashboard

When Admin level users sign into iCarol, they’re presented with their own dashboard of information most pertinent to them and their position as leaders at their agency. There are two areas on this dashboard where system changes are communicated.

    Release history and plans

    A software “release” happens when our Technical Team takes the enhancements or fixes they’ve been working on and apply them to the live iCarol system accessed by users. This step is the culmination of careful process undertaken by our Support, Technical, and sometimes Product Management Teams. Once a certain enhancement is coded by the Technical Team, a member of the Support Team or Product Management Team will thoroughly test the enhancement in a series of simulations in our test system to ensure the enhancement works as designed without undesired impact to existing processes. Once this process is complete, the “deployment” happens and the changes go into affect for everyone who signs into iCarol. The system doesn’t go offline or experience downtime in order for this to happen, so the changes may appear transparent to users unless they notice a new enhancement, or if they read the release notes.

    A summary of upcoming release plans can be found on the right side of your Admin Dashboard.

    Release history and plans

    Clicking the link for “See more release history and plans” takes you to the details list of what enhancements are included in an upcoming release to the iCarol web application, and details on past inclusions as well. A drop-down menu allows you to pick which element of iCarol you’d like to view release details on. These are broken down by the iCarol web application (your main iCarol system), Public Resource Directory, Messaging, and API. Each of those elements of iCarol have seperate releases and separate lists of work items to be tested and applied.

    Release details

    In addition to the Admin Dashboard, users of other security levels also have access to these release notes from their own dashboard. For those volunteers and staff members, the release notes are linked at the bottom left of the screen when they first log into iCarol.

    Keep in mind that the language in these release notes can be a bit technical, but if you think a particular item may be important to your work and you’re not sure what it does, you are welcome to ask the Support Team for more details.

    Announcements, Tips, and Tricks

    In the center column of the Admin Dashboard is the “Announcements, Tips, and Tricks” area. In this area we’ll share news and goings on of note to Admins. This is one of the places we’ll typically announce noteworthy new features or enhancements, upcoming events such as when we’ll be at an industry conference or are holding a webinar, and important news like letting you know when a Taxonomy update is coming.

‘Help’ area of your iCarol system

All users signed into iCarol can access the ‘Help’ area at the lower area of left main menu.

Help area

The ‘Help’ page includes a number of links to tools including:

    Training Webinars and Tutorial Videos

    When you first land on the ‘Help’ page you’re brought to our collection of recorded Training Webinars and other tutorial videos or video series on how to use the various features of iCarol. These videos are categorized by the feature area they pertain to.

    training videos

    Help Articles

    There is a library of solutions, step-by-step instructions, and answers to common questions that can be read in the Help Articles area of the ‘Help’ page. These articles can be browsed, or you may search using keywords or phrases the find the topic you wish to read up on.

    iCarol Ideas Portal

    Earlier this year we introduced the iCarol Ideas Portal. In this area of iCarol you can view the feature enhancement ideas submitted by your peers, vote for the ones you like most, submit your own ideas for consideration, and subscribe to ideas that interest you. When you subscribe to an idea we supply ongoing email communication to you about its progress toward potential implementation. Not only do we discuss this new area extensively on the blog, but we also covered it in a recent webinar as well.

    In-system guides

    Though not yet available to all of our users, for some time now new iCarol systems in trial have included in-system guides to help users learn how to use iCarol. These smart guides present themselves to a user when they enter a certain feature area to encourage them to take a brief tour or learn more about how to use a certain element of iCarol, and then walks them through the process. These guides are tailored for users based on their security level, ensuring that everyone gets a walk-through that is appropriate for their role. We’ve discussed these guides in past Enhancement Review Webinars and will be sending our users more information about them, as well as posting blogs and offering other communication, when we are nearing the wide release of these guides to all of our users.

    Submit a Case

    If you can’t find the answer to your question by searching in the Help area or elsewhere, or if you need to report an issue, then we welcome you to contact our Support Team for additional assistance. This is done by opening a case in the Case Management area. You can read our full instructions and tips for the best way to do this here.

Website and Blog

The iCarol website can be a great source of information about software features, including new feature released. Our primary features and sub-functions of those features typically have web pages describing their purpose and use, and visitors to our website can easily explore what iCarol has to offer.

On the iCarol blog we will post about new features and notable enhancements as they are added. Often our blogs will highlight how this new enhancement works, the solutions it aims to present to our users, how to enable it, instructions on use, and ideas for how you might use a feature at your organization. If you are signed up to receive our Weekly Blog Digest, you’ll receive a single email per week delivering links to all the blogs from the previous week.

Emails

We realize that your email inbox can get really full really fast, and so we try to be mindful of that by carefully deciding when to directly send you feature news via email. When a new feature or enhancement is particularly impactful or presents major opportunities for our users, then we may choose send direct emails. You can manage your communications with us, though keep in mind that as an iCarol user you may get necessary and important system emails from us, or shift reminders and other system notifications, even if you have unsubscribed from “marketing” emails.

Webinars

We recognize that sometimes it’s nice to hear from us live and “in person” and so we occasionally offer webinars to discuss new features or enhancements to features. Once every few months we’ll hold our “Quarterly Enhancement/New Feature Review” webinars. These webinars are a chance for us to look at the most noteworthy system enhancements of the last few months and present them to you, consolidated, in the webinar. We’ll discuss the purpose behind the feature and the problems it aims to solve, talk about how it could potentially be used by you, and the benefits it delivers to your organization. Note that these enhancement review webinars are not trainings or walk-throughs of the features, but rather a chance for us to provide you with an overview of its use and purpose, as well as give you an opportunity to ask us questions about these enhancements. In addition to the regular enhancement review webinars, when a new feature is released that has a far-reaching impact, or presents a major change in functionality, we’ll also hold webinars about that particular feature, to provide an overview or also to train users on how to use it.

Annual Customer Survey

While we send out various communications to our users, it’s also important that we invite you to communicate with us and give us feedback. Each year we send out a survey to our Admin and Supervisor users asking for your input on a variety of topics pertaining to iCarol and your use of the platform. If you’re an Admin or Supervisor you’ll be receiving this email very soon, and we hope you’ll take a few moments to respond and let us know how we’re doing.

As a web-based and ever-evolving software solution, we recognize how imperative it is that we communicate effectively with our users so that they can make the most of using their iCarol systems. If you have any questions or feedback about how we communicate with our users, you can feel free to . And as always, if you have a specific question about how to use iCarol that isn’t covered or the answer can’t be found in one of the various places described above, please reach out to our Support Team for assistance.

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Have a coffee on us!

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Technology has really changed the way businesses can advertise their products and services. Marketing has gotten so precise. Maybe you’ve noticed it when you log into your favorite social media platform. When I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed it’s almost eerie just how absolutely tailored the ads are to me personally. It’s not uncommon for me to see ads specific to the breed of dog I have, the music I listen to, or the hobbies and interests I post about.

But in spite of all the smart advertising tools available to businesses now, at iCarol we’re finding that good ol’ word of mouth is still the best way to bring new clients to our ever-growing family. The industry we serve is made up of a lot of tight knit networks where people work closely with peers at partner organizations. The opinions and experiences of a trusted and respected colleague who knows their business has a deep impact.

Our current iCarol users are our best advertising, and we greatly appreciate it anytime you help bring a new organization into our family. And that’s why we’ve started a new referral program to show our gratitude to clients who are helping us expand our reach.

The way it works is pretty simple: You probably know of a peer who could really use a solution like iCarol at their organization. When you agree to connect us with them, as a token of our gratitude we’ll send you a $5 e-gift card to use at Starbucks.

You can read all the details, and get started with sharing iCarol with a friend and claiming your coffee, by clicking here.

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iCarol at the DoD/VA Suicide Prevention Conference

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From August 1-3, Polly and Rachel will attend the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) conference on suicide prevention, held in Denver, CO.

Every two years the DoD and VA collaborate to host the Suicide Prevention Conference. The conference focuses on suicide prevention efforts across both departments and is the only suicide prevention conference that specifically addresses suicide among Military and Veteran populations at a national level. This year’s conference theme, #BeThere – It Takes a Community, is consistent with DoD and VA methodologies, which require a multi-pronged strategy for prevention including: media messaging, non-medical interventions, mental health interventions, training for gatekeepers, peer-to- peer support, troop and family member training, and leadership engagement. The DoD and VA recognize that education on a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention is vital.

This will be iCarol’s first year attending this conference, though suicide prevention for Veteran and active duty service members is a topic with which we’re familiar through our work in the suicide prevention industry at large, and our relationships with many clients who serve this population. Through our first visit to this conference we hope to learn even more about the unique needs and best practices for serving Veterans and active duty members of the armed services.

To read more about our work in this industry, click here.

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iCarol achieves 99.99% uptime for first quarter 2017

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Being a web-based service, we are always aware of how access to our systems effect you. After all, many of our users operate as 24/7 services, entering call report forms and searching for resources ’round the clock. We recognize that there’s never a “good” time for iCarol to be unavailable to you, and this is why we’ve invested so heavily in infrastructure and processes that work hard to minimize outages and make unavoidable ones as brief as possible. We have “fail over” servers that are are set to pick up systems routed to them in the event of connection loss, and members of our technical team receive notifications no matter the time of day or night in the event of detected instability so they can begin working on a solution, often before our users have even detected a problem. In an effort to be completely transparent about iCarol’s uptime and availability, we make status.icarol.com available to you, and advise our users to check this site if they suspect they’re having connection issues to help determine whether the issue is originating with iCarol or something is amiss with their own local network connections. These are all examples of efforts and placement of reliability as our very top priority.

Our service level agreement with our users is 99.9%, which translates to about 10 minutes of allowable downtime, on average, per week to achieve. Of course it’s our goal to go above and beyond that, and consistently we do. iCarol regularly achieves uptimes of 99.95% or 99.97%, and our overall uptime for 2016 was over 99.97%, translating to no more than three minutes of downtime per week on average. This 2016 achievement exceeds industry standards as comparable to some of the top web-based service providers, including Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Amazon, and Netsuite. These companies are, of course, much larger than iCarol in every way, and yet we often meet and exceed the service levels offered by them.

We’re pleased to say that thanks to some of the infrastructure work that’s been done over the last year, our total uptime for the first quarter of 2017 met a “four nines” achievement, which is 99.99% uptime. To give you an idea of how good that is, it means that in a given month a site would be unavailable for just over 4 minutes total, and about 1 minute of downtime weekly.

Occasional, brief slowdowns or short periods of downtime are unfortunately an unavoidable part of the online world in which we live, but making these interruptions a rarity is our top priority. We are scaling our infrastructure and systems as we grow so that we can continue to provide the level of service you’ve come to expect and deserve from us. It is an ongoing item that we’re always monitoring and looking to innovate, but we were particularly happy with the performance following the strides we made and wanted to share that with you.

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iCarol at the National Conference on Problem Gambling

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If you’re going to be in Portland for the 31st National Conference on Problem Gambling this week, be sure to stop by and say “hi” to Mary from iCarol who will be there for the pre-conference and will be at our booth in the exhibitor’s area. We’re proud to be a part of this event; the largest and oldest conference of its kind bringing together leaders in prevention, education, treatment, responsible gaming, research, and recovery.

We’ll be joining the Pre-Conference beginning July 19th and attending the Helpline Symposium workshop on July 20th. It’s important to us to stay engaged on all the latest with this group and learning the current events and news impacting the industry.

iCarol is the chosen provider for a national chat and text collaboration platform for the National Council on Problem Gambling. Several centers and organizations from around the U.S. participate to provide help in states where they provide services. Help seekers from around the U.S. text or live chat with the national service, then iCarol’s comprehensive design reads the help seeker’s location. If there is a center in the network from the person’s location designated to take the chat or text at that time, then the chat or text is sent to them. If there is not a designated center available, a trained back-up center is sent the chat or text. This successful model, which has been in place for a few years now, is great because help seekers get help close or specialized to them when it is available, and either way, help seekers always get connected to help. Contact us if you are interested in a model like this at your organization.

With every event we attend we continue to be amazed by the diversity in the helpline services available for so many different needs and issues in communities all across the world. Problem gambling helplines are doing wonderful work to strengthen families and improve health and wellness by reducing the economic, social, and personal costs caused by problem gambling. We’re sure it’s going to be another exciting and educational event. See you there!

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