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



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

Mental Health and Sandy Hook

There are a lot of people in the world today, over 7 billion, in case you missed the National Geographic special.  And rarely, are our jaws dropped in unison over anything.  After an event like that at Sandy Hook, we desperately look to each other for some kind of explanation.  Who can we blame to resolve this mess and be done with it?  How can we guarantee something like this will never happen again.

My Kung Fu teacher always says, when you're knocked down and in a bad position, don't expect to get out in one move.   Chances are, it took more than a couple wrong moves to get there in the first place and chances are it'll take more than a couple moves to get back out.

Perhaps the only thing we can do is start changing the way we think about and interact with mental health services as we move forward through this tragedy. 
At Aunt Bertha, we help connect people in need with appropriate programs in their community. Programs like Youth and Adult Counseling administered by LifeWorks that provides free counseling to help individuals and families deal with mental health issues like depression and anxiety.  And the CARE Program by Any Baby Can that helps families with children who have physical, developmental or behavioral special health care needs learn coping skills, receive emotional support and get connected with the right services to meet their needs.

Mental health matters.  And while we can't say for sure that more awareness and access to mental health services would help prevent something like Sandy Hook from happening again there's  probably not a better place to start. 

We're ready to see what happens when people can find mental health and other critical community services in seconds. Finding help is the first step.   

Do you know of a great mental health service?

Do something about it now.

Tell us about a program in your community.
Topics: Mental Health helping people find services Sandy Hook

A Must See: It's Kind of a Funny Story

Yesterday I took a break and watched a movie that I would recommend : It's kind of a Funny Story. It's a story that took courage to write and produce. The movie gives a look at a week in an adult psychiatric ward of a hospital, albeit watered down for Hollywood. I believe they nailed the tough balance on this one - an uplifting story about not the most upbeat issue. If the karaoke scene doesn't have your eyes welling up then you may not have a soul. I'm just saying.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older, one in four adults, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. It makes you wonder how many life experiences we are away from those who may be considered chronically mentally ill.

Ever drive by the homeless man who screams at cars on the corner of South Lamar and Barton Springs? Ever find yourself screaming at cars - behind your own steering wheel?
What is the real difference when you take an honest look?
I would argue that the difference could be, in many, a series of very difficult things that happen to us as we get older.Take some time this week and take care of your mind.

Watch this movie too - at the very least to educate yourself somewhat on an important population. A population that you may be a little closer to than you think.

Topics: Mental Health Social Work Mental Disorder National Institute of Mental Health