We’re working on several enhancements in our labs you should expect to see shortly:
Internal Messaging – Soon, folks with logins will be able to to send short, typed messages to each other. See here for details. Administrators will be able to choose to have this enabled in your system. It’ll be off by default when we launch it, so you can decide when to introduce this new feature to your team. Keep an eye on the Dashboard for details shortly.
Integrated Messaging – Folks who use instant messaging or text messaging will enjoy an improved workflow once we launch enhancements to that feature. We expect it to go into the internal testing phase in late November, and into client testing after that. Please let me know
if you’d like to participate in that testing. We recognize this improvement will require plenty of advance notice, details, and training materials before we make this available, and we’ll be sure to provide those. The improved workflow comes directly from requests clients have made — we always appreciate your feedback and are happy to deliver.
Call Report Editing Tools – We’ve always prided ourselves on our speedy response to making changes to your call report forms, but we’re working on a nifty way to improve upon that. How does an immediate turnaround sound? Yes, soon we’ll introduce a tool that gives Administrators greatly expanded abilities to edit aspects of your call report forms yourselves. That’s in client testing now, and we’re busy preparing training videos and help articles in preparation for an imminent release.
Also thanks to all who joined us for our webinar on October 6, where we talked about these enhancements and a few others we have in store for you, as well as the new processes we have in place to better serve you. Please join us for the next webinar — we’ll announce it on the Dashboard and will send emails out to all Admins.
From October 23rd to 25th, iCarol’s business development team will be in Nashville for the CUSA/NASCOD conference. We’re really excited to see so many friends and clients who gather at this annual conference which is so popular among crisis and suicide prevention centers.
During the conference we’ll also be participating in a presentation. iCarol has partnered with CONTACT of Mercer County, NJ to develop an aggregate texting system. They’ll be presenting information about this program, called TxtToday, on October 24th, and we’ll be joining them to help inform participants about the project and iCarol’s role. They are currently testing this with two other centers, and are hoping to include additional centers as part of a national network. If you’re interested in learning more please do attend the session. We’ll have more information about the presentation in the coming weeks including the time and location, so please check back on the blog as the conference gets a bit closer.
If your center isn’t already accredited by CONTACT USA, or if you aren’t already a NASCOD member, we encourage you to consider both for your helpline.
CONTACT USA provides one of the most well known and respected crisis center accreditations in the industry. When you are accredited by CONTACT USA it shows your funders that they are contributing to a worthwhile and effective program, and also connects you to a national and international community of those who provide emotional support and crisis intervention all over the world. Further, your community will be assured that your organization provides the highest quality of service. To find out more about this accreditation, you can visit their website.
NASCOD membership is a great resource for Executive Directors or Program Managers of crisis centers. The group provides regular peer support calls on a number of different helpful topics, and group members are regularly networking, discussing challenges, sharing ideas, and generally supporting one another. Many NASCOD members are also iCarol clients and we really enjoy our relationship with the group and its members, iCarol clients and non-clients alike.
If you’re going to be in Nashville we’d love to take some time to chat with you while you’re in town. Contact or prior to the conference to arrange some time to talk with them about your helpline and to learn more about iCarol. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone in October!
We at iCarol are excited to welcome STOMP Out Bullying™ to the iCarol family, just in time for National Bullying Prevention Month in October.
STOMP Out Bullying™ is a leading national anti-bullying and cyberbullying organization for kids and teens in the United States.
STOMP Out Bullying™ began in 2005 to address the issue of bullying and cyberbullying. They focus on reducing and preventing bullying and cyberbullying and other forms of digital abuse, and educating against racism, hate, and homophobia. Through a number of programs and initiatives, STOMP Out Bullying™ teaches effective solutions on how to respond to bullying. They also provide help for those in need and at risk of suicide.
Bullying should not be considered a “rite of passage” or a normal and acceptable part of childhood. According to STOMP Out Bullying™, kids who are bullied are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Bullying can cause school absence and decreased academic participation – including dropping out of school entirely.
Bullies themselves are at risk, too. According to STOMP Out Bullying™, bullies are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs when they become adolescents or adults. They are at increased risk of being involved in criminal activity, and are more likely to be abusive to their spouse/partner or children as adults.
On the first Monday of October each year we celebrate Blue Shirt Day® World Day of Bullying Prevention to show solidarity and make that the day that bullying prevention is heard around the world to bring awareness to the issue of bullying. By creating a “sea of blue” in our schools, businesses, and out in the community, we’ll see just how many people wish to stand up against bullying of all kinds. On October 6th you can wear any blue shirt, or you can purchase one. Remember, “If we all stand up as one, no one stands alone.”
STOMP Out Bullying Blue Shirt Day® World Day of Bullying Prevention 2014 PSA from STOMP Out Bullying on Vimeo.
Donna and Eliisa recently attended the Pre-Conference symposium at the 28th National Council on Problem Gambling Conference in Orlando, FL at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. Members of our team attend conferences like this to ensure that we are on the cutting edge of the issues, challenges and experiences that helplines face.
The Florida Gambling Affiliate hosted the event. We’re happy to have just welcomed them to the iCarol family, as they went live on iCarol July 1st with phone, text and chat. One staff member said “iCarol has made my life much easier.” We love that feedback! It’s always great to hear that folks are finding their volunteer experience made easier or more enjoyable by using iCarol.
Brian Kongsvik is the Helpline Director and he did an excellent presentation on how his helpline works and the outcomes and follow up research of those that had contacted their helpline services. He reported that in his center, 79% indicated they had either stopped or decreased gambling since contacting their helpline services.
The breakout sessions gave us lots of great insight and presentations from a spectrum of sources. Donna from iCarol gave a presentation on chat and texting as well as the importance of integrated technologies. Anyone who has ever managed a helpline knows how easy it is to fall into the trap of using quick technology fixes to get by day by day. At the surface, you think it doesn’t cost you anything to do a quick update on a computer here and there, or utilize someone’s expertise to add a field into a form quickly, but soon you find yourself only able to do the report you need on one computer in the office and using a multi-step process utilizing many people every month just to do your routine monthly reports. The group was actively engaged, and for some the story of this vicious cycle hit a little too close to home! Integrated technologies like iCarol can help stop this cycle.
Bensinger, Dupont & Associates did a demo of iCarol’s live chat feature, which they use for several problem gambling live chat sites around the country. They noted they like the customizable programming to fit their unique needs.
Peer support networks and websites that people are accessing for help with problem gambling, other than calling, texting, and live chatting into helpline services, were discussed. Experts include GamTalk (Canada) and Gambling Therapy (UK). Both offer services run by licensed mental health professionals, with peer support from those in recovery from gambling addiction. These organizations offer a community (often anonymously) whereby they can build support communities around them.
The group also discussed the decrease of phone calls across the country to problem gambling helplines in the US. Among all the addictions, it was noted that those with a gambling addiction have the highest completed suicide rate among any other addiction. As such, those attending the pre-conference were fortunate to be given an opportunity to be trained in QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer). Best practices in advertising were shared, with some noting that billboards near casinos work well.
Unfortunately some heavy rain moved the welcome reception sponsored by the Seminole Tribe of Florida indoors instead of outside by the gorgeous pool area, but it didn’t detract the crowd or the fun. We had such a great time meeting so many of you from the various NCPG affiliates and gambling helplines. And of course to the new friends we made if you want to learn more about iCarol we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call,
or join an upcoming webinar to learn more about us and our features.
If you’re going to be in Orlando for the 28th National Conference on Problem Gambling in July, be sure to stop by and say hi to Donna and Eliisa from iCarol who will be there for the pre-conference festivities and the pre-conference reception. 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 which is focused on the work of helplines. On Wednesday July 9th we’ll present a session titled “Strategic Issues in Helpline Text, Chat and Operations” where we’ll cover the important trends we’re seeing in Helpline operations. We’ll discuss our experience with the dramatic shift towards offering help through multiple channels, such as Chat and Text messaging. This is in response to the near-ubiquitous nature of cell phones and the increasing popularity of gambling sites and apps — people are nowadays often holding their phone and/or online when they need help. Our presentation will be followed by a separate presentation by iCarol clients from the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling and Bensinger Dupont and Associates who will present chat and texting demonstrations.
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!
We have an exciting new capability to share with iCarol Messaging subscribers. You can now allow a partner center, or multiple centers, to take chats for you from within their own iCarol system.
This new ability is transparent to visitors; they will not be aware of which center is taking the chat session. Visitors will still click on your familiar Chat Now button on your website and will see your prechat survey. But during times you designate, both you and your partner center will see those visitors come in to each of your messaging queues. As usual, safeguards are in place so two people don’t accidentally take the same chat. Both centers will have access to submitted call report forms and associated real-time statistics.
The possibilities here are endless. It’s ideal for handling overflow in a disaster situation. Watch your messaging queue grow shorter and become more manageable as your partner agency takes some of your chats. You can use this feature to handle after-hours messaging visitors. Because iCarol centers are found in multiple time zones, after-hours for you might be prime time for another center, and your partner could take all of your after-hours chats. This lets you expand your hours of service without trying to staff shifts during hard-to-staff hours. Want to get really fancy? You could even designate multiple centers to handle chats that come in to a central iCarol system, effectively creating a consortium of chat centers where no single center feels overburdened or underutilized. Every partner center sees all chats and takes chats when they can — it’s load balancing at its finest. Each partner center could have their own hours of service, too, and you’d get real-time statistics.
If you’re interested but don’t have a partner center in mind, feel free to post a message on the iCarol User Community on the Dashboard to find your perfect match. We can see it now: Single Crisis Center on East Coast seeks same on West Coast for meaningful after-hours relationship…looking for good listening skills, compassion, and ability to read between the lines. 🙂
iCarol is more than a product that helps you manage the many facets of running your helpline. We’ve worked on helplines so we know the challenges you face. From our iCarol user community to our industry white papers and downloadable guides to our blog, we care about bringing you relevant content that will help you enhance and grow the services you provide to your clients and communities.
In our latest endeavor to bring you helpful material, we’re partnering with CONTACT USA (CUSA) to provide a series of webinars covering important topics in the areas of Helpline Management, Information and referral, and Online Emotional Support (Chat and Texting).
The first of these webinars, scheduled for May 20th, will focus on Online Emotional Support, why you should be providing this service, and how you can integrate this new channel into your existing services. iCarol pioneered the efforts in the helpline industry to integrate chat and texting capabilities with the longstanding avenue of phone calls. CONTACT USA is the leader in Online Emotional Support training and accreditation. Together we have the tools and expertise you need to turn the idea of offering these services to your community into a reality.
Anecdotal evidence from crisis centers around the country has shown that for many years young people have seemed reticent to reach out to a telephone hotline. Additionally, people of all ages may feel more comfortable with the additional layer of anonymity and ease of access afforded by communicating through a computer. This includes people that may have social anxieties, may be deaf or hard-of-hearing or living with other disabilities that make verbal communication more challenging.
So we hope you’ll save the date and join us and CONTACT USA on May 20th to learn more about this exciting time for our industry. Can’t wait? Join us for one of our webinars to show you iCarol’s messaging capabilities or contact us to schedule a private walk through.
We’re gearing up for the American Association of Suicidology’s 47th Annual Conference in Los Angeles! We’re looking forward to seeing so many of our friends and colleagues there; it’s always a great chance to catch up with everyone in the helpline and suicide prevention industry.
This year iCarol is particularly excited to present a special lunch session on Friday April 11th. Our workshop is
With every passing year, the use of new channels to seek help continues to expand. Join this session to help your crisis center evaluate these channels, determine your next steps and plan your technology choices to adapt to the evolving Online Emotional Support (OES) landscape. You’ll hear from your peers and technology experts about the best way to get started serving people interactively using the electronically written, rather than the spoken word.
Chat, Texting, Mobile and Social: A look at today and the future of online emotional support with iCarol.
Adding new channels by which your clients can reach you can be intimidating and may leave you with a lot of questions. We hope to answer the questions you may have about these new technologies and give you confidence to embark on this new and exciting path with the tools iCarol has developed. We hope you’ll join us for this session at AAS! Not attending the conference but still want to learn more about our Online Emotional Support capabilities? Sign up for a webinar!