" 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: 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.
Mental 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