We as a nation are experiencing the profound anguish and fear of another school shooting. Again mental illness becomes the too-easy target.
For the longest time, I have argued that mental illness and mass shootings are two different subjects.
I was wrong. Mental health belongs in this conversation, but we’re thinking too small.
The truth is: Even if the U.S. were able to eliminate mental illness as a factor, the nation would reduce gun-related crimes by less than 5 percent, according to CDC data. The truth is that people living with mental illness are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence.
Another truth: Violence is an infectious disease, and this nation is in the throes of a full-scale epidemic.
I was wrong because this unremitting violence has created a national mental health crisis. Every school shooting exposes more people to trauma, and not just those directly affected. Our first responders? What we demand of them is simply inhuman.
We’re traumatized also by the murder of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, and by the hundreds of acts of violence in this city every week.
Violence doesn’t have to happen near us to affect our mental wellness. NAMI Chicago’s Ending the Silence high school program helps students from around the city who are struggling with real trauma simply because they live here.
One of the hardest things we ask people living with mental illness to do is raise their hands to ask for help. The stigma society places on mental illness is so pervasive and so corrosive that for many the risk is simply too great. With every shooting, they see how society handles mental illness. And what if a person living with mental illness finds the courage to seek help? They’re met with an inadequate system.
The scary reality is that if our mental health system fails when one person raises his or her hand, how can it hope to help the entire country?
The United States needs a moon-shot level effort to bring our mental health system out of the 19th century. As a nation, we have a childlike grasp of the subject. Popular culture prizes wellness and living in the moment, but we still talk in hushed voices about “mental breakdowns.” We expect grade-school kids to know first aid, but commonsense mental health techniques are a mystery to college graduates.
It doesn’t have to be this way. For centuries infectious diseases terrified humanity, until science found the microscopic culprits. For centuries, we spoke in a whisper of the Big C, until immunotherapies and other treatments have given us hope of ending cancer’s terrible grip.
Violence is an infectious disease, and we know it affects us in a physical way. Researchers are learning more daily about brain function and how integral mental health is in physical well-being.
It is past time that we as a nation have an adult conversation about mental health. For years, my colleagues in the field have developed solid, actionable plans. It is past time now to act on them. Let us work together on local, state and national levels to build a robust mental health system—not because just one person needs help but because we all do.
NAMI Chicago’s mission is to improve the quality of life for those whose lives are affected by mental illness. That’s all of us.
This message first appeared in an email to NAMI Chicago’s supporters and is reprinted with permission from Alexa James, MS, LCSW who serves as Executive Director of NAMI Chicago. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of CharityLogic and iCarol.
The offense of sexual trauma can be debilitating against anyone. Whether male or female, the crippling effects can be the same when it comes to how a victim internalizes and ultimately handles the healing processes as well the aftermath of the trauma. The offense can be an actual rape, sexual assault, harassment, child abuse and/or molestation, incest, drug facilitated assault, intimate partner sexual violence, or any other form of unwanted sexual offense that violates one’s privacy and respect of their personal space while threatening the protection of their person as it is certain to create a victim in every circumstance.
Although these offenses are committed against the victim it is the victim that takes on the daunting responsibility of not revealing the crimes against them or as society loosely translates it “keeping silent” of the heinous things that have transpired. Many may say this almost sounds ridiculous as to why would a victim “keep silent” about such things performed against them especially those individuals that “keep silent” for extended periods of times even decades later. What are they hiding? What are they afraid of? Why didn’t they tell it then? Why are they protecting their perpetrator? These are just some of the questions that society haphazardly throws at victims without even thinking of how much greater the evil versus the good while asking these type of questions, and I can promise you it’s like you’re throwing daggers into their stories while piercing their souls at the same time.
There was a practice that is noted first in Scotland then later in England in the 1500’s called “scolding” or “branking.” It was where a scold’s bridle, sometimes called a witch’s or brank’s bridle, was used as an instrument of punishment or as a form of torture and public humiliation. The device itself was an iron muzzle in an iron framework that enclosed the head with a bridle bit projected into the mouth and pressed down on top of the tongue. Although it may have been used on men, this form of punishment was primarily used on women whose speech was deemed “riotous” or “troublesome” so the bridle would prevent them from speaking publicly. It is noted that when the brank is placed on the “gossiper’s” head that they would be led through town to show that they had committed an offense or “talked” too much. This was in fact to humiliate them into repenting their “riotous” actions. Then not only did they have the audacity to place a spike inside the gag to prevent any talking since obviously any movement of the mouth would cause severe piercing of the tongue, but in some locations, branks would be permanently displayed by publicly attaching them, for example, to the town cross or tolbooth as displaying the branks in public was intended to remind the populace of any rash action or slander.
Unfortunately it appears that this practice of “branking” is still happening today in present day society although an actual scold’s bridle may be invisible to the human eye it still carries the same mental torment and public humiliation. Many victims walk around with a forced bit in their mouths to keep silent of the sexual offenses committed against them. A victim of sexual violence is led to believe that if they speak out against the crime against them or against their offender that some form of retaliation and or humiliation would ultimately lead to the discrediting of their reputation or an untimely demise. When we tell a victim that we do not believe them as they attempt to come forward with their account of incidents we are telling them that they are indeed “riotous” in their public speech. When we silence a victim by intimidation and dare them to speak publicly against their offenders, no matter how powerful or prestigious their offenders may be, we are giving them the impression that they are “troublesome” in their actions.
The real crime is how society stands idly by as victims are shamed in public humiliation not only afraid to share the truth but literally dared to speak the truth against their offenders. While you are wondering what victims are hiding you should be wondering what they are not revealing, because with the unwelcomed gawks and stares of the unbelieving public, along with the mental excruciating pain from the “invisible” spike inside the gag, has caused them to shut down in the midst of speaking their truths. So I ask you, if you knew that your fate was destined to be permanent public degradation for reporting a sex crime against you must we still ask, what are sexual assault victims afraid of or why don’t they report their crimes sooner? I am sure that no one wants to be muzzled because they are considered “gossipers” that “talk too much” then basically forced to repent and/or recant their truths. This was not an equitable form of justice back in the 1500’s and it most definitely not an equitable form of justice now in the 21th Century.
Victims of sexual violence did not want, ask or desire to be traumatized. As there is no glory in allowing an individual to take your virtue by force, violate your body and space without permission, rob you of your innocence while making you question your self-worth then at the same time lose your identity. The time is now that we turn public humiliation into crowd participation by helping victims everywhere remove the “branks” from their heads and the “bits” from their mouths and that is with our support as we encourage them to continue to come forward and speak up and out publicly against sexual violence and offences against them. When a victim looks into the public’s eyes it is imperative that compassion and concern is displayed as the forces of evil always seem greater in the eyes of their offender and it is here that they seem to lose all hope when they feel that they stand alone against predatory giants.
Since when is speaking the truth supposed to cause open shame? Since when did a person that wants to be released from their physical torment not released at all because they have to live with the mental torment for the rest of their lives? Since when does the public have the power to keep a victim victimized? Since when does a violent sexual predator get the opportunity to intimidate and silence his victims?
Only compassion can offer comfort in the midst of these present dehumanizing times as we are definitely dwelling in a land among predatory giants. Sexual violence has no place here yet it exists and speaking up publicly against it is unusual yet it continues. However, I am still confident that we will win the fight against sexual violence as it was merely a stone that killed Goliath. Or, in other words, as long as we continue to stand in courage and face our giants, whether standing in public humiliation with lacerated tongues, scandalized names while being questioned by many, sometimes even our loved ones, we will slay these sexual predator giants that dwell among us.
Guest blogger views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of CharityLogic and iCarol
Dan Maxwell, called “DMAX”, was a 3-sport athlete at Radnor High School
Athletes are perceived as successful and strong, able to meet every challenge. As a result, there is increased pressure both on and off the field to push forward, train hard, beat the competition, and stay silent when things get tough. Athletes are expected to juggle practice, games, training, families, social lives, and for younger athletes, school. It’s no wonder that athletes are more susceptible to developing mental health issues than non-athletes, including eating disorders, anxiety, burnout, depression, and suicide.
In her memoir “In The Water, They Can’t See You Cry” Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard chronicles her experience with mental illness and the pressure she faced to stay silent:
“I wrapped myself up in sadness like a martyr…I didn’t talk about what was happening to me with anybody — not my dad, mom, friends, or coach. Hop into the pool, do your sets, dinner, homework, bed. Business as usual…Now the pool had become another spot of despair. My safe zone was now a place where my brain constantly battled itself.”
Mars’ Hill College writes in their sports blog, No One Looking: The Stigma of Mental Illness in Sport, “The larger problem is that there is a deep-seated sports spirit that has embraced a tradition and notion of immense mental toughness and emotional resilience that makes it difficult, and nearly impossible, for athletes to call out for help.” Some professional athletes have taken the stage recently to speak about their experiences with mental distress, but mental health is still largely unaddressed in the sporting world, and often ignored by sports organizations.
DMAX Foundation believes that it is time to break the silence, because Courageous Conversations about mental health are critical to stemming the tragic consequences of untreated emotional pain. In service of this, DMAX Foundation will be bringing together a panel of professional athletes to discuss mental health in the sporting world, moderated by Blair Thomas, Penn State and New York Jets Running Back. Other panelists include Michael Haynes, Penn State and Chicago Bears Defensive End, Education Leader; Charlene Morett, Olympian and Penn State Field Hockey Coach; Brady Kramer, Montreal Canadiens, Athletic Director and Coach; Greg Ambrogi, UPenn Football and co-founder, Kyle Ambrogi Foundation.
Join the conversation on April 4th, 2018 at The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr. For more information and registration visit: www.dmaxfoundation.org/spring-event-2018
NASW-PA Chapter is a co-sponsor of this workshop. 2.5 CEs will be awarded for completion of this course. Special discounts for students, military/first responders and athletic coaches. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
In addition to hosting mental health events for the community, DMAX Foundation is establishing DMAX Clubs on college campuses as environments for students to get together and talk about how they are doing, how their friends are doing, and how they can help each other. DMAX Clubs help reduce the sense of isolation and hopelessness for students who may be suffering from mental or emotional issues and can’t or don’t seek the help they need.
If you know a college student who would be interested in starting or joining a DMAX Club, work for a college that would like to establish a DMAX Club, want to volunteer, or would like to support their efforts through donation or sponsorship, contact DMAX Foundation at email@example.com.
Guest blogger views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of CharityLogic and iCarol
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
- 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.
According to Larry C. Johnson’s Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising, few non-profit organizations see their donors as investors. Often times a non-profit will focus on events where donors get some kind of premium for their one-time donation. Johnson ask us to re-imagine this — to move from a transactional construct to one that is more relational. When we ask people to give, we are inviting them to partner with us, to share in our vision and support our mission and programmatic goals. Before any event we should be asking: Does the event fit in with our mission? Is it worth the time, volunteer and staff effort, and upfront costs? How will we continue to engage our donors afterward? Regardless of the event, be it outreach or fundraising focused, it’s helpful to have a donor management system in place beforehand, to capture data and continue engagement post-event.
My center, the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, has held multiple fundraising and outreach events — a concert with an out of town performer who’d played previous benefits for our local NAMI chapter; a semicolon tattoo event — almost 100 people got permanent ink of henna tattoos that evening; hosting the film “The Mask You Live In”, a documentary about the risks of toxic masculinity, at our local art house theater; and a golf tournament this summer.
We have learned that the best fundraisers are the ones with the lowest initial overhead and the least amount of logistical work!
We have learned to not be too attached to dollar amounts, but to see these events first and foremost as outreach and volunteer engagement/recruitment opportunities. The concert required the most work and capital outlay, and we just broke even financially. We saw it as an overall success as the press surrounding the event did a lot to raise awareness of our service, and bring more prospective volunteers through our doors. The tattoo and film fundraisers were fairly easy to stage, cost relatively little up front and raised decent money between them. Finally, our golf fundraiser was hosted and staged by a person who had lost a family member to suicide some years prior and approached us with the offer.
We also held an outreach event at a local arts festival where we created “listening stations” (booths with hard wired phones inside and out). One trained volunteer inside each booth played a caller with a thought provoking but non-suicidal/ on-super acute crisis story to tell. We asked participants to pick up the phone and simply listen, while our volunteers, in role, shared their stories. The volunteer then thanked the participant for listening.
With the exception of the concert, our goal with each of these events is to have them be, if possible, “The First Annual…” which lowers the logistical bar for us for next year, and starts to build culture, community and history around each event, both within our shop and in our larger community.
Get creative! Ask your volunteers, staff, and local community members for ideas that fit with your mission! Most of all, have fun with it. Treat your volunteers, staff, and participants well, make the most of community engagement opportunities presented, and keep up the dialogue with all of your new and existing partners/ investors! If you are considering a semicolon tattoo event, keep in mind that an organization called Project Semicolon has trademarked some of the associated imagery and verbiage. We reached out to them and got permission in writing before moving forward with the event.
Guest blogger John Reusser is Director of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, and serves on the Board of Directors for CONTACT USA. John is also a member of the Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention, a board member of the Livewilder Foundation, and Certified ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) Trainer and a licensed Designated Examiner.
The goal of iCarol’s blog is to provide interesting, helpful, and relevant information to our readers, who are typically volunteers or staff members of non-profit helplines located around the world, as well as people in executive and leadership roles, and other stakeholders. This group includes people who use iCarol, and also those who don’t.
Some of our best and most popular blog posts have come from helpline professionals who have a unique perspective to offer our readers. We’re always looking for new bloggers to join us. Here are some suggestions for topics to write about:
- How your helpline handles a specific problem/topic that may be common in the helpline industry
- Your thoughts or stance on a particular issue impacting helplines, or impacting larger industries of which helplines are a part (i.e. suicide prevention, mental health, substance abuse, LGBT, sexual violence, etc.)
- Policies, procedures, thought processes, or philosophies on various topics that come up
- Blogs about funding: Tips on how to get it, where to search for it, how to write a good grant or proposal, or how to convince your board or CEO to fund something that your helpline needs
- Detail on partnerships you’ve formed that have ultimately helped your service thrive or improve service delivery. This could be partnerships with local law enforcement, emergency departments, counseling offices, organizations you commonly refer to, and more…
- How-tos or tips for working with certain populations
- Share information about how you use iCarol that may be helpful to other users
- Going beyond service delivery — How do you market your program? How do you advertise and make people aware of your service? What outside resources do you turn to for help?
- What events or conferences do you attend and why should other helpline professionals attend them?
And those are just a few ideas for the types of blogs we’re looking for. We welcome your own ideas and proposals for topics beyond what is listed above.
Once you submit it to us, we’ll review your submission. If chosen for publishing, we’ll set up a brief bio and byline for you, and when we publish your blog we’ll also link back to your organization’s website. In exchange we’ll ask that you also link to this blog using the outlets available to you, such as your own organization’s blog, newsletter, social media accounts, etc.
Original and exclusive content is great, however any material you may have previously written that was published elsewhere is welcome, so long as you or someone from your agency authored it and you have ownership over it and are authorized to cross-post it with us.
Interested? Want to submit an idea, a finished blog, or simply learn more? Please for more information!
Crisis Hotlines have been around for over 40 years, and so have individuals that call regularly. These types of repeat calls are often referred to as exhausting, challenging and frustrating. Viewing these calls as such can introduce the danger that someone in actual need may not receive the full benefit of the services offered. Though the caller may not be presenting a crisis at the moment, your support and empathic listening can aid in the prevention of escalating into a crisis. Often times, the callers are utilizing the same unsuccessful maladaptive coping skills to try to resolve their situation. They have most likely burned many bridges, have very little or no support from family and friends, and feel lonely and isolated. They are often turned away and told no or that nothing more can be done. It is important to remember that these callers can also experience crises.
As many centers are adopting a trauma informed care approach, the use of recovery oriented language and care is emerging. The term Frequent or Chronic caller is being replaced with Familiar or Experienced caller, to name a few.
Some centers or crisis workers struggle with setting limits and boundaries. Callers can benefit from the structure and learn to develop and rely on their own strengths. The callers are the experts on what helps them and it varies for every person.
Challenge yourself and your center to create a thoughtful approach to handling these calls, while maintaining boundaries, consistency, and setting limitations. Establish firm and consistent boundaries in a respectful manner. Some centers have time limits per call, others have limits on how many times an individual can call. Once you decide on a limit, it is important for all crisis workers to remain consistent. Create a clear guideline for crisis workers to follow. Example below:
Initial call of the day:
- Listen, reflect feelings
- Don’t dictate
- What has changed since your last call?
- What was your plan when your last call ended? Have you tried…?
- Have you followed through with your plan?
- What else can you try?
When speaking with someone who has been contacting your center several times per day, it is okay to ask the individual:
- To restate their crisis plan
- Who else can they call besides the crisis hotline?
Be cautious of providing the same intervention techniques each time, it can be beneficial to treat each call like a brand new call every time. Perhaps something has changed and what didn’t work yesterday may work today. Remember there is value in listening and acknowledging their reality. Consider what it must feel like to live with this every day.
1. Help the individual identify the precipitating event that caused them to call/chat/text. “What has happened/changed since your last call?”
2. Help the individual prioritize and stay focused. Acknowledge that it seems there has been a lot that has affected their lives. “I’m wondering, which situation is most important for you to resolve.” “What can I help you with today?” “From what you have shared, there seems to be a lot going on for you. Which one is the most worrisome for you today?”
3. It is better to interact than react. Validate that they are doing the best they can. “It sounds like you are doing the best you can. What can you try differently to cope with this?”
4. Identify coping skills. “What has helped you in the past? Have you tried that today?”
5. Help them explore new, healthy coping skills. “I’m wondering if you have thought of new ways of coping.”
6. Explore the importance of retelling their story repeatedly, “How is this helpful for you?” “What are you hoping to get from this conversation today?”
7. Empower them to work toward recovery.
8. Limit exploration of the situation and problem solving.
9. Help the caller focus on what he/she can do to help him or herself today.
10. Support the caller in developing a reasonable, specific and attainable plan. Provide additional resources, such as a warm line for support.
Other helpful statements:
“You really seem comfortable doing what you have always done, that’s more familiar to you. How would it be for you to try…”
“It sounds like you feel scared to make any changes.”
“It sounds like you have a sense of what it is going to take to change and you’re not sure you want to do that.”
“It seems discussing your past experiences are more comfortable for you than trying to make changes.”
For research on Familiar callers, please use link below for information:
Guest blogger Lisa Turbeville is Manager of the Resource and Crisis Helpline and Legal Services at Common Ground, and serves on the Board of Directors for CONTACT USA.
When it comes to training our helpline volunteers we all seek the same result: success. How we achieve that success varies amongst centers. How can you improve your training while balancing the needs and limitations of your agency? Here are some key factors to consider when creating or transforming your training.
Selecting Prospective Volunteers
Volunteer selection is an important part of the process in order to determine if a prospective volunteer can be an effective crisis interventionist and is the right fit for your agency. Volunteer selection can be done individually or in a group setting. Identify the appropriate person/s to provide this, such as staff and/or current volunteers. Just because someone wants to volunteer on a crisis line, doesn’t always mean that they should. Protecting your agency, those we serve and the volunteer are all critical pieces to keep in mind. Identify individuals you feel believe in and can carry out your mission, possess the qualities and skills you find important and are trainable.
Choosing the right facilitator/s to provide the training is important. The facilitator/s should preferably have experience in crisis intervention, teaching, a strong knowledge of the material and familiarity with how the crisis room operates. You may want to consider offering opportunities to current volunteers to co-facilitate sessions.
Other important skills you may want to consider when selecting a facilitator:
- Ability to adapt and utilize different teaching and learning styles/techniques
- Ability to provide meaningful feedback
- Ability to identify individuals that need to discontinue the training
- Ability to debrief individuals, training can be intense and trigger individuals
- Possesses keen observation skills
- Professional, organized, punctual, represents the agency well
- Actively engages well with others
- Has a good sense of humor
Duration and Schedule
How long should training be? The duration of your training should reflect the amount of time needed to properly teach and prepare individuals. It may be tempting or more convenient to provide a shorter training, but that may not always be in your best interest. There are advantages to offering shorter and longer trainings. Shorter trainings may attract more volunteers because it is less of a time investment and they produce volunteers that are ready to take calls sooner. Longer trainings can provide more time to teach and develop volunteers and give you the opportunity to get to know each of them better. Invest the time; you are only as good as your training.
Give thought to the amount of time between trainings, to give your volunteers and instructor time to process what has been taught and keep them rejuvenated. Allowing a few days between training classes can be beneficial. As you are scheduling your training keep the calendar in mind, you may want to avoid scheduling your training too close to any holidays.
Make sure the training environment is comfortable. Important features may include:
- Comfortable temperature
- Comfortable chairs
- Good lighting
- Enough space
- Easily accessible bathrooms
Remember to cater to different learning styles and don’t be afraid to experiment. More agencies are offering courses on line, which can be convenient but may exclude those that are not computer savvy. However, don’t forget to offer some traditional courses in person because human contact is invaluable.
Asking volunteers to practice using their own past resolved crises instead of made up scenarios can be really beneficial. It offers them the opportunity to bond with the other trainees, see firsthand how the crisis intervention works and most importantly, demonstrates how hard it can be to be vulnerable and how brave our callers are to share their stories with us.
- Debrief your volunteers after every session
- Provide a balance of exercise, didactic and skill practice
- Ask volunteers to observe the crisis room and calls
- Provide opportunities for continuing education
- Send volunteers to workshops and conferences
- Keep the training and topics up to date
- Get their feedback and make changes accordingly
- Prepare them, but most importantly have fun
Once the volunteers complete the training, don’t forget to honor them with a graduation celebration. Certificates, awards, cake and small gifts are some nice ways to honor the graduates. You may also want to consider hosting a graduation party that includes crisis line workers and other agency staff, including the CEO.
The truth is that anyone can create a report using all the tools we now have available via the computer. But there are several key areas to focus on if you want to create a report that not only gets a funder’s attention but also results in increased funding opportunities.
Here are some tips to think about as you set up your reports to produce awesome outcomes:
- The report is visually appealing and professional looking — before sending your report out to a funder, have someone who has not seen the report take a look at it and see what their first impression is. Is it a report format that catches someone’s attention? Ask the person reviewing the report to describe their first impression and what words they would use to describe the report format. If the words are not what you would expect (i.e. “wow, this looks really professional and really caught my eye”), spend more time polishing the format. You want your report to be the one that stands out from a stack of many others.
- Data is displayed in a way that is easy to read and understand — assume your reader does not know your field of expertise so your data has to be presented in a way that makes sense, is easy to follow and does not rely on someone’s knowledge of the field to understand what the data represents. Avoid using acronyms or terminology that someone outside of your field may not understand.
- Interpret the data for your reader — data alone is powerful but data that includes narrative which explains what the data means, particularly how it relates to what your funder is wanting to know, is more compelling. Data can be interpreted in many different ways, depending on the perspective of who is looking at the data. Be the one to offer the perspective of how the data should be interpreted by telling the story with a narrative. Answer the questions that someone may have in looking at the data so as little as possible is left open to interpretation.
- Use the tools available to you — Microsoft Word and Excel are your best friends when it comes to report formatting and data display. Use the tools built in with both of these products (or other similar products) to create a report format that gets that “wow” factor. As examples, you can create spreadsheets and charts in Microsoft Excel that are easy to export into Word. A product like Excel is a better tool to use for data display and data accuracy. You can create formulas in Excel to ensure all your totals are accurate. Microsoft Word, on the other hand, is a better product to create your report in as the intent of Word is to allow the user to visually create a document that allows for both data display and narrative formatting.
- Your report answers the questions your funder is asking — to do this, you need to know your funder and what your funder is wanting to spend money on. Only include the pertinent data and information that will help the funder make their decision. It’s easy to include data and information that we think is important but the intent of your report should be to answer the questions that are important to your funder.
As you create and write your reports, always remember that you want your report to be the one that gets a funder’s attention from among many others who may be vying for the same funding that you are. Data tells a story and your report can be the mechanism that explains that story and ultimately leads to increased funding for your agency.
Crises are universal in nature and affect all people. Sources of crisis can include, but are not limited to: natural disaster, domestic violence, change in marital status, economic burdens, death of a loved one, chronic or terminal health conditions, medical emergencies, loss of employment, assault, or burglary.
Even though there is universality to crisis, culture plays a strong role in how crisis is interpreted, both for the crisis intervener and the person in crisis.
The crisis intervention responder focuses on providing an immediate and temporary emotional first aid to the person in crisis. Interventions are utilized to assist the person in crisis and target the circumstances of the presenting problem. The goal is to reduce the level of stress for the person in crisis, modulate the intensity of the stressors, and return to a level of normalcy at the pre-crisis level of functioning.
Due to the need for immediate response on part of the crisis intervener, factors of culture and cultural identity are often neglected. Since the crisis intervener and person in crisis often come from different cultures (i.e. age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, language, nationality, religion, occupation, income, education, mental and physical abilities), it is important to develop an immediate trust between the two for the purpose of assisting the person in crisis to regain their coping mechanisms and return to a pre-crisis level of functioning.
The quick development of rapport and trust between people of different cultures often requires the crisis intervener to communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, and demonstrate an acceptance of cultural differences.
It is crucial that professionals who work with people in crisis be aware of their own issues. When intervening in a cross-cultural situation, ask yourself important questions such as, “What am I feeling now?” It is most important that professionals develop an awareness of their own prejudices around cultural diversity.
Crisis intervention often demands quick responses in a limited period of time. Depending on the severity of a crisis, rapid questions and answer are often required to manage the crisis response. However, people from many cultural groups see questioning as an intrusion into privacy. Therefore, informing the person in crisis of the need to ask questions can help people from those cultural groups understand that this type of questioning is a necessary, yet temporary strategy in order to assure safety. When working with someone in crisis while respecting cultural differences, it may be best to ask, “It is important that I ask some personal questions in order to best help you. Is it OK that I do that?” Asking permission can go a long way in building rapport during the crisis event.
After symptoms of the crisis are stabilized and controlled, acknowledgment and appreciation of the culture of the person in crisis can help to identify cultural resources for after-care. Resources from family, church, ethnic or specialized agencies can provide continuing support needed after the immediate and urgent symptoms are controlled.