The Aunt Bertha Blog

Provider Spotlight Series: A Q&A with Step Up For Mental Health

" I know what it’s like not to know where to turn and I want us to provide resources that empower people to  “step up” and care for both the person in their life dealing with mental health-related issues as well as their own well-being."--Adrienne McCue, Step Up For Mental Health 

As Aunt Bertha launches our Provider Package, making new features and how-to content available to providers who have claimed their listings, we bring you The Provider Spotlight Series--a group of blog postings aimed at showcasing the remarkable work a variety of providers are doing in their communities and the ways in which they are using Aunt Bertha to help them.

We spoke with Adrienne McCue, President and Executive Director at Step Up For Mental Health (formerly AJW Foundation), about how the Chicago-based organization is using Aunt Bertha as a tool to support their work of providing resources not only to those affected by mental health-related issues, but to their families and caregivers as well. 


AB: In a few sentences, what is the mission of your organization and what kinds of services do you offer to advance your mission?

sufmh_logo_web_1080.pngSUFMH: While our name used to be different, our mission hasn’t changed. We simply wanted our name to reflect on exactly the work we are trying to do as an organization. Step Up For Mental Health’s mission is to support, educate and provide services to empower families living with the challenges of mental health disorders. We believe that mental health issues impact social issues including education, homelessness and poverty. Step Up For Mental Health strives to match families with resources to help move them toward a more productive life. There’s a huge stigma attached to mental health issues and we want to work to end that stigma.

On a personal note, I was a caregiver for my mother [for many years growing up] who suffered from schizophrenia until her death in 2012. I know what it’s like not to know where to turn and I want us to provide resources that empower people to  “step up” and care for both the person in their life dealing with mental health-related issues as well as their own well-being.

AB: How do people learn about your programs?

SUFMH: At the moment, mostly through word of mouth and social media. We recently listed our programs on Aunt Bertha and are now encouraging people to connect with us there as well! 

AB: What challenges have you faced in the past in finding people for your programs?

SUFMH: Because we are an emerging non-profit and just went through a name change, we had to figure out how to let the community know about Step Up For Mental Health as a resource. We have recently been getting alot of traction, which is great. 

AB: How does Aunt Bertha work as a tool to help you find and connect with people interested in your programs?

SUFMH: Lisiting our programs on Aunt Bertha has given us the opportunity to grow our reach and connect with more people in need in Chicagoland. The ability to update each program's description and other information really helps people understand what we do and how we can help them and their families. 

 AB: Are there any other ways you use or plan to use Aunt Bertha in your work?

SUFMH: We love Aunt Bertha!  We learned about [the platform] through a webinar and before our programs were even listed, we began using the site to refer people who had called in for mental health related services, but who also needed other services.

unnamed.jpgMental health is more than just “I need housing”. It's “I can’t get out of bed”.  We give people the option to self-navigate using Aunt Bertha, or we assist them in using the platform. While we don’t operate as a crisis hotline, we want to be able to support people (whether it be in the short or long term) to find services that will improve their overall quality of life.

 

AB: What are some of your reflections about social service access and referrals, and how does Step Up for Mental Health fit into that space?

SUFMH: In a time of great crisis, people dealing with mental health issues or their caregivers can be under even more stress. I’d like to be able to say, “Okay, you just relax, let me get a package together for you and get you the information you need”. That’s where Aunt Bertha really comes into play because I can’t do everything. We’re small, but if I have tools, like Aunt Bertha, I can make a huge impact with the resources I do have.

Are you a direct service provider in your community or know of an organization doing impactful direct service work? Click here to learn more about how to claim a program on Aunt Bertha and unlock free team sharing, reporting and referral management functionality, all in one user-friendly tool!

Contributor: Adrienne McCue

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Topics: Mental Health Social Services Provider Package Provider Spotlight Series Chicago

Provider Spotlight Series: A Q&A with the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas

Literacy is more than knowing how to read. That’s the message the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas is spreading to community members and the focus of their work with over 2,000 clients last year.

As Aunt Bertha launches our Provider Package, making new features and how-to content available to providers who have claimed their listings, we bring you The Provider Spotlight Series--a group of blog postings aimed at showcasing the remarkable work a variety of providers are doing in their communities and the ways in which they are using Aunt Bertha to help them.

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We spoke with the Ashlee Kraus, Social Services Coordinator at the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas about how the organization is embracing digital outreach as a way to better serve their clients and reach their target audience, managing referrals through Aunt Bertha's Connect feature, and continually finding new ways to engage their community after claiming their listing. 


AB: In a few sentences, what is the mission of your organization and what kinds of services do you offer to advance your mission?

LCCT: In today’s world, literacy is about using printed and written information to function in society, achieve one’s goals, and develop one’s knowledge and potential. At the Literacy Coalition we believe everyone should have the skills they need to reach their full potential. Our mission is to improve the quality and increase the availability of literacy services to Central Texas, with a vision of a community that is 100% literate, employable and engaged.

AB: How do people learn about your programs?

LCCT: The most common ways that people learn about our programs are through search engines and our website. We also attend many informational fairs throughout the year, and see a great response through word of mouth from our former participants.

AB: What challenges have you faced in the past in finding people for your programs?

LCCT: Our greatest challenge is having the platforms to make sure that all of the relevant information about our program is out there. Our High School Equivalency (GED) and Adult Basic Education programs are very intensive and require a potential student to dedicate a lot of time and energy. Our program is designed so students can work at their own pace, so it’s important that our messaging is clear and we are proving that we are in it to support students for as long as it takes them to accomplish their goals.

AB: How does Aunt Bertha work as a tool to help you find and connect with people interested in your programs?

LCCT: Aunt Bertha gives us a user friendly and practical place to advertise our free services. It’s also a great platform for allowing people to get in contact with us, and posting all of the most current and relevant information about our programs. Aunt Bertha helps us find out more about the prospective client’s needs and determine if they are a good fit for our programs.

AB: Have you seen a change over time in the number of people reaching out to learn more about your services online?

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LCCT: Yes! Since we’ve had the option to move to online platforms, we have seen a great increase in the number of digital inquiries we get. We have an inquiry form on our website that allows potential clients to request information about the many programs we offer and gives them options for language preferences as well as when and how they would like to be contacted.

 

AB: Are there any other ways you use or plan to use Aunt Bertha in your work?

LCCT: So far, we’ve been using Aunt Bertha as a tool to direct potential new students to our program, but in recent months we have really seen how it can be useful in helping connect clients with other resources in the community. We have been able to pass out postcards and general information that has allowed students to navigate the website on their own and inquire about resources available to them. We are excited to start using the team sharing feature so that the social workers and instructors can have a go-to, trusted list of resources for clients.

AB: What are some of your reflections about social service access and referrals, and how does the Literacy Coalition fit into that space?

LCCT: Many times, when our clients need help they are in a very vulnerable state. Their odds can seem insurmountable and they don’t know where to start. At Literacy Coalition, we truly believe that literacy is about more than just knowing how to read and write. It’s about having the tools and skills one needs to navigate life, and confidently using those skills to achieve their goals. The team at The Learning Center is dedicated to making sure that every potential client that passes through our doors has access to high quality services, even if they are services that we cannot provide. Aunt Bertha gives us an amazing tool to help everyone navigate the social services landscape, and get them on the way to being their best selves.

Are you a direct service provider in your community or know of an organization doing impactful direct service work? Click here to learn more about how to claim a program on Aunt Bertha and unlock free team sharing, reporting and referral management functionality, all in one user-friendly tool!

Contributor: Ashlee Kraus

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Topics: Provider Package Provider Spotlight Series

Announcing Aunt Bertha's NEW Provider Package

Here at Aunt Bertha, we have dubbed September "Direct Service Providers Month". Why? Because for a while now, we’ve been asking direct service providers who have listings on Aunt Bertha to claim their programs. Starting today, we are making this process easier and opening up so many new, free tools for claimed providers, we need a whole month to talk about it and celebrate YOU!

It’s simple: Claim your program and you have access to the NEW Provider Package.

Questions on how to claim? Answers.

So what’s the Provider Package?

The Provider Package is a suite of new, free features and tools for our claimed providers complete with support and step-by-step how-to’s to help you get the most out of your Aunt Bertha experience.

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 2.36.24 PM.pngThe Provider Package is also a way for the Aunt Bertha team to say “thank you” to the amazing group of service providers who make up such a big part of our community. Your work inspires and energizes us to build products that make the process of helping people easier. We heard your feedback and went to work.

We’re excited to bring you:

    • A new webpage especially for providers--www.about.auntbertha.com/provider This brand new webpage features all the information and how-to’s you need to start making the most of the Provider Package’s free tools. Bookmark it!
       
 
  • The Provider 101 GuideA one-stop shop that guides you through everything you need to know about the features you’ve unlocked by claiming your program, including Frequently Asked Questions. 

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Once you have the basics down you can...

  • Update your programs’ information: The ability to get the right information about your programs to people in need by easily updating key information, like: immediate next steps, your location, hours of operation, availability, eligibility requirements, supported languages, and more.
  • Take advantage of FREE features to help you help others, including the ability to:
    • Track and manage referrals made to your programs
    • Share your favorite programs among team members
    • See reporting and analytics of your program (and consider using this to show demand and gain more funding to do your work)

Over the next month, keep an eye out for in depth looks at all of the free features unlocked by claiming, highlights of providers across the country using Aunt Bertha to do impactful work in their communities, and more! Claim your programs now to get started!

Have feedback on the Provider Package or ideas for Aunt Bertha features that would help you or your organization? Let us know! Send a message to community@auntbertha.com.

Topics: Provider Package

Why You Should Log In

While we don’t require users to login to search on Aunt Bertha, we think users - be they a person seeking help, helping others, or providing services -  absolutely should log in (but we are admittedly biased). Give us a quick moment to try to explain.

Why Users Should Log In:

Individual users who log in to AuntBertha.com get special features that are unlocked with a free account.

  1. Save your favorite programs - Skip the search for your favorite programs each time you come in.  Save your favorites and organize them into folders for quick access.
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    Figure 1.  Make Folders of Your Favorite Programs

  2. Manage referrals - View and manage the status of referrals that you have made for yourself or on behalf of someone else.
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    Figure 2.  Manage Referrals That You Make

  3. View analytics -  View a detailed search history and get special reports on programs and searches in your area.  With individual reporting you can get answers to questions like: What new programs have been added to my area? Or what search did I do to find that program I liked?
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Figure 3.  Individual Search History

In order to access your new reporting and analytics tools, first you have to create an account and log into Aunt Bertha.  If you haven’t created an account yet, you can do so here.

You will have to complete some searches in order to have a search history, but make sure you log in each time in order to keep your data current.  

Once you’ve built some history, you can find your reports in the navigation at the top of the page. Just click the link called “Analytics".

If you manage a program that helps others in need, you should take a look at how Aunt Bertha helps direct service providers, too!

 

Why We Don’t Require You to Login

We know that people are often searching on Aunt Bertha at their most vulnerable times.  It is in these moments that our mission to remove every barrier between the person in need and the program that can help them is most important.

In an effort to minimize or remove all barriers, we never require a login to access the Aunt Bertha program search.

This is not a “business first” decision, it is a “seeker first” decision. By not requiring a login, we assure that people in need can:

  1. Find help fast. A zip code is all you need to find programs of support.
  2. See all the key info. No program information is hidden to a user who is not logged in.
  3. Find help barrier free.  Creating an account or remembering your password are barriers - we recognize that and have removed them as a requirement to find help.
  4. Search in private. Search for sensitive information without the feeling that your searches are tracked or your privacy is lost. 

So while there are benefits to logging in, we don’t force it. We believe that by not requiring a login we are living our value of putting seekers first, and we hope you agree!

 

New Free Reports Available to Direct Service Providers

Aunt Bertha recently launched free interactive reports available to direct service providers who claim their program listings. These visually appealing, easy-to-share reports enable providers to learn from real-time data and answer questions like:

  • How often were my programs returned in search results (indicating need for services)?
  • How many people viewed my programs (indicating need for services)
  • What actions did visitors take to demonstrate interest in my programs? (i.e. clicked on my website, started a referral, printed information about my services, etc.)
  • What did these searches look like over time, and what does this tell me about changing interest in or need for my services

How to see your report:

1. If you haven't yet claimed your program, go to http://about.auntbertha.com/claims to quickly find and take ownership of your programs. If you are not yet in our system, just suggest your program to us and then claim once you have been added.

2. Once you have claimed and logged in, go to the "Analytics" tab at the top of the page.

3. Click on "Program Activity Report" to see your new reporting dashboard. If you have more than one claimed program, you can select it by using the "Filters" bar at the top of the report.

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Figure 1.  Claimed Program Report

If you want to share this report, you can print the page or click on individual elements of the report to download a CSV file of the data. 

This report might be a great addition to your next board meeting, or an addendum to the next grant proposal you submit! 

Do you have feedback on or ideas about other reports that could be useful? Email champions@auntbertha.com and let us know your thoughts.

Remind me, why is claiming my programs important?

Claiming your programs gives you a better way to connect your social services with the people who need your assistance. In addition to being able to edit and manage key content that is displayed about your program, claimed programs are also able to manage referrals and to access the new reports described above. Appointment scheduling functionality and other exciting free features will also be launching in Fall 2017. If you have any questions about claiming, email us at support@auntbertha.com and we will help you through the process. Thank you! 

Data On The Need for Social Program Diversity

I was recently asked why Aunt Bertha places such a high value in having a depth and breadth of free and reduced cost agencies listed in our database.  “Don’t people just need to know 10-20 really good resources they can send patients to if they have complex social needs?”

The short answer is: No. Data repeatedly shows that a small number of programs, even really good programs, do not meet the diverse needs of an entire community.

One of the great things about Aunt Bertha is that with over 25,000 users conducting over 135,000 searches and referrals every month we get a unique view of needs and search patterns throughout the country.   This real, demand side data tells an interesting story.

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We took a look at one of our client’s activity in the Washington DC area and found that in February alone 716 unique programs were clicked on or referred to and the top 20 programs only accounted for 35% of total activity.  

Of the organizations I speak with I have heard two consistent themes that may explain this:

  1. There is diversity in the population they serve which could have wide variation in income, age, and other factors that create a variety of social needs.  So a senior with mobility problems will have needs that differ from a single mom that is struggling financially.  
  2. Healthcare organizations that increasingly serve people from a wider and wider geographic area.  Many hospitals see patients not only from multiple zip codes or counties, but in some cases from multiple states.

Some medical conditions and treatments are common, but each patient is unique which is why there is a diversity of treatments, medications and specialists available.

DataTeam.jpgNot all people who need social assistance will be able to be served appropriately by the same programs. For this exact reason, Aunt Bertha has invested heavily in our data operations and will continue to do so. If we list a program that only a few people get that help from every year - it’s worth knowing about that program and it’s worth listing.

We’re constantly forming partnerships with key social program agencies in your community and have technology and strategies to support this.  Reach out to us to find out more about how we can help you help the clients you serve.

Request a demo ›

Topics: need-based programs data social programs

Improved Search Filters Make Finding the Right Program Easier

Our team at Aunt Bertha is creating much more than just the most comprehensive social services directory in the United States. We are committed to our mission of actually connecting people in need and the programs that serve them.

One of the ways we do this is by designing product features that bring our users closer to finding programs that are the best match for their needs. We recently re-designed the location, look and feel of our search filters with the goal of making it easier to narrow in on the right programs that are available at the right times and fit with an individual's personal situation and income level.

We moved the filters up to the top of the search results, so that they are more obvious to our users. We also separated the filters into three tabs based on the kind of content they focus on.

These three tabs include:

  • Program Filters: Details about a program
    • Includes hours that a program operates, whether it is free or reduced cost, and any specific languages a program supports

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  • Personal Filters: Details about who a program serves
    • These filters change based on your search -- what programs we found for you and who those programs serve. For example, below is a search for "emergency food," in Austin, TX. We found some programs that specifically serve veterans and families with young children, so we added those filters to the Personal Filters list. Filtering by both would show you any programs that specialize in serving either group.

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  • Income Eligibility: Asks for household income and size to narrow down programs that are based on specific income qualifications

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You may be wondering, how does Aunt Bertha know enough information about programs to create these filters?

The answer is twofold: We do this through the hard work of rigorous data collection, combined with the engagement of providers claiming* and updating their program listings.

Both of these approaches allow us to tag programs with increasing specificity based on who they serve and how they deliver services. Our goal is to continue to improve our tagging and partnerships with providers so that users know exactly which services are a good fit for them, and spend significantly less time hitting dead ends.

*If you are a provider of a free or reduced cost social service, we want to talk with you and help you claim your listing! Email champions@auntbertha.com for more information.

 
Topics: access to social services

Helping More People via LinkNYC

The team at Aunt Bertha is proud to be part of a new endeavour to make it easier for people in New York City to find the free and reduced-cost social services that they need with a presence on the LinkNYC kiosks, the world's largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network.
 
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Aunt Bertha has been an active resource for New Yorkers since we launched our free social search and referral platform in 2011. Over the past 6 years we've been happy to help tens of thousands of people in New York search for the programs that can help them.  We expanded both our capabilities and our program data for New York City and the surrounding areas through work with the Robin Hood Foundation beginning in 2014. 
 
Our new partnership with LinkNYC is a significant milestone for Aunt Bertha, as it moves us further and faster ahead in our mission to make human services information accessible to people in need, and the organizations that serve them.  People are able to use the "Help Services" feature at any of the kiosks in the city to access the Aunt Bertha program search and find programs to help with things like food, shelter, transportation, job training, legal services, and education.  
 
Access to the "Help Services" feature has been live for a little over a week now, and as we've begun to analyze the search data, we are seeing searches every few minutes, and all through the night.  We have seen people search for emergency food, addiction help, and additional support, and we hope that some have found their way to one of the many amazing NYC non-profits that are doing outstanding work.
 
You can read more about the program in The Atlantic's CityLab article: 'New York City's Wi-Fi Kiosks Now Include a 'Yelp for Social Services'
Topics: access to social services

New! Agency Referral Dashboard

Keeping track of inbound referrals and inquiries can be a hectic process. When inquiries are handled by different people at different times, it takes a lot to set up and manage a consistent means of tracking and following up on outcomes.  


That’s why we recently launched a new feature for service providers! Now you can review and respond to referrals to your programs, then track the outcomes within one central dashboard.

In this dashboard, you can:

  • See all inquiries and referrals your program received through Aunt Bertha
  • Easily find contact information to follow up with the person inquiring
  • See who referred someone to your services
  • Quickly update the status of referrals and inquiries to close the loop

You also have additional options to accept intake forms:

  • Get exactly the information you need with each referral
  • Link to these forms from your website as an online intake form
  • Easily respond to applicants and receive their replies, right in the dashboard
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With referral and inquiry activity being tracked for you, you can get a look at the bigger picture:

  • How many people are reaching out to your programs?
  • How many are able to receive services?
  • For those who don’t, what was the barrier?

Dig into this data via reports you can share with board members and funders to illuminate program activity.

All this is just the beginning. With this dashboard, we’re laying the foundation for a provider-focused workflow, to make it easier for you to help the people who are inquiring about your program. But we know there’s more to learn! We always appreciate feedback and the chance to learn from you, so we can continue to build our platform to better meet your needs.

If you have additional feedback, we'd love to hear it! Please reach out to us at customer@auntbertha.com.

Topics: new features