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“The Listeners” screened in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

I had a great time attending the screening for The Listeners hosted by Crisis Intervention Center. I got to see several of my former coworkers and it was so nice to catch up with them and then see such a great film. Audience members for the special screening included current and former volunteers for CIC, as well as board members, and students of an LSU Crisis Intervention Class.

The audience of current and former volunteers for CIC, board members, and students excited to screen the film
The Listeners screening Baton Rouge audience
Based on my experience working at the Crisis Intervention Center (formerly Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center), “The Listeners” is an accurate portrayal of the effort it takes to screen, train, and support volunteer crisis workers. Those in this business of telephone based crisis intervention know all too well the initial anxiety a crisis worker feels during their first shift, and “The Listeners” does a good job of capturing that feeling on film. As the film progresses though, it becomes clear that as a crisis worker learns to cope with that anxiety, they begin to realize that they are in fact making a difference in the lives of the people they speak with. Certainly not all calls that come into a crisis center are about suicide, and “The Listeners” demonstrates well that some callers just need a caring and empathetic person with whom they can unload all of their current thoughts and emotions onto.

Aaron Blackledge, Executive Director of CIC, welcomes audience to special screening of The Listeners
The Listeners screening Aaron Blackledge
In the film, they explored funding issues that crisis centers across the country are faced with, which in my opinion, highlighted the need for crisis centers to use their data to make their case for funding. Specifically, it is important for crisis centers to make requests for financial contributions by using data to demonstrate their community’s return on investment in their crisis services. Simply put – a crisis center must use data to express their ability to save the community money by averting unnecessary Emergency Department admissions through their de-escalation techniques (SAMHSA, 2014). In my own experience, without the use of iCarol, it would have been nearly impossible to calculate the number of times crisis workers did and did not send at-risk callers to the emergency room. However, because the Crisis Intervention Center uses iCarol to document all calls, chats, and texts, reporting on this data each month was quick, easy, and accurate and provided community leaders with information regarding the cost-benefit of crisis services.

I definitely encourage those in the nonprofit helpline field to see “The Listeners” because it gives a very real, very raw look at the challenges and successes crisis workers and crisis centers of all kinds face on a daily basis. I’m truly grateful for crisis workers that take calls, chats, and texts from people in need of help. While their work may be anonymous and confidential, the results of their work is felt in the individuals, families, and communities that benefit every day from these vital services.

Wendy Bookman (CIC), Christa Knox (iCarol), & Rick Jackson (CIC)
The Listeners screening

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Crisis Services: Effectiveness, Cost-effectiveness, and Funding Strategies. HHS Publication No. (SMA)-14-4848. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014.

More about The Listeners:
Watch the trailer
Host a screening (it’s easy!) in a theater or college campus or community center near you.


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