Cyberbullying Rarely Occurs in Isolation, Research Finds

Cyberbullying is mostly an extension of playground bullying – and doesn’t create large numbers of new victims – according to research from the University of Warwick.

Professor Dieter Wolke in the Department of Psychology finds that although cyberbullying is prevalent and harmful, it is a modern tool used to harm victims already bullied by traditional, face-to-face means.

In a study of almost 3000 pupils aged 11–16 from UK secondary schools, twenty-nine percent reported being bullied, but one percent of adolescents were victims of cyberbullying alone.

  • Cyberbullying doesn’t create large numbers of new victims, says University of Warwick researchers
  • Most bullying is face-to-face – with cyberbullying used as a modern tool to supplement traditional forms
  • 29% of UK teenagers reported being bullied – only 1% were victims of cyberbullying alone
  • Bullying intervention strategies should focus on traditional bullying as well as cyberbullying
Professor Dieter Wolke

During the survey, pupils completed the Bullying and Friendship Interview, which has been used in numerous studies to assess bullying and victimization.

They were asked about direct victimisation (e.g., “been hit/beaten up” or “called bad/nasty names”); relationalvictimization (e.g., “had nasty lies/rumours spread about you”); and cyber-victimization (e.g., “had rumours spread about you online”, “had embarrassing pictures posted online without permission”, or “got threatening or aggressive emails, instant messages, text messages or tweets”).

All the teenagers who reported being bullied in any form had lower self-esteem, and more behavioural difficulties than non-victims.

However, those who were bullied by multiple means – direct victimisation, relational victimisation and cyber-victimisation combined – demonstrated the lowest self-esteem and the most emotional and behavioural problems.

The study finds that cyberbullying is “another tool in the toolbox” for traditional bullying, but doesn’t create many unique online victims.

As a result, Professor Wolke argues that public health strategies to prevent bullying overall should still mainly focus on combatting traditional, face-to-face bullying – as that is the root cause of the vast majority of cyberbullying.

Wolke says, “Bullying is a way to gain power and peer acceptance, being the ‘cool’ kid in class. Thus, cyber bullying is another tool that is directed towards peers that the bully knows, and bullies, at school.

“Any bullying prevention and intervention still needs to be primarily directed at combatting traditional bullying while considering cyberbullying as an extension that reaches victims outside the school gate and 24/7.”

For more information, the research can be viewed in the European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry journal.

10 Big Mistakes College Students Make In Their Job Search

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.” –H. Stanley Judd

Out of all the job seekers I come across, there’s a special connection I share with the college grads. Their incessant zeal to turn the world upside down is contagious; but, it’s a shame to see over 76% of them failing to get a job even after spending months doing unpaid internships. If I talk about myself, it’s because it cost me 4 internships and 2 training sessions to secure my place in the firm I aimed for; however, not every friend of mine put the same effort.

I totally envy a few of them who got their dream job served on a platter. Not every friend of mine who got the job first was an ace scorer, but they avoided making a few mistakes that cost others a lot of time and efforts in their journey. Given below is a brief account of the same.

1. Not Responding To Your Emails And Calls

I understand it’s the age of texting, and for the college grads, nobody actually keeps a check on those emails. But, employers do! A large number of employers keep a constant check on the emails they receive and choose to communicate with the candidates via emails. Similarly, missing on those calls can cause the loss of a kickass opportunity you’ve been aiming for long. To keep up with the employers, check your emails daily and make a rule to answer all your calls.

2. Choosing Facebook and Twitter over LinkedIn

As a student, I spent a lot of time surfing through the funny videos on Facebook; however, I realized a bit late that it did not help me at all to achieve my respective goals. As per a survey, 90% of the college students claimed to network with their peers using Facebook, but over 46% said they have never been on LinkedIn. As a college grad, it is important to gauge the right platform to develop a network that would help you in the long run. It is a must to create a LinkedIn account by the time you’re a college senior. LinkedIn is a great way to network and develop links with the people who can help you professionally. This adds on to the odds of getting a job faster than your friends.

3. Taking ‘No Response’ As A No

It’s no lie that thousands of resumes go directly into a black hole and the applicants never really hear back from the employers. And to be honest, it has happened with almost all of us. While giving up is easy, I would suggest the college grads to keep swimming and find a thread that leads them to the employer. Look for a personal connection or a network that could help you in your quest. While you are in a competition with thousands of others who haven’t heard back from the employer, make yourself stand out by not giving up easily. If you think the job is a good fit then chase it till you get it. This would not only get you a step ahead in the rat race, but it also help you in fetching the perfect job.

4. Not Using The College Network To Max

A big mistake that college grads make is relying too much on the online listings and anonymous placement fairs. While, I don’t undermine the success rate of such listings, looking for a personal connection to the employer can give you faster results. Build a solid network of people on your campus who can help you achieve your goals. Keep up a casual conversation with your friends, professors, alumni and tell them you are focusing on finding a full-time job. Ask them if they know someone who works or have been associated with the companies you’re interested in. It would definitely lead you to the opportunities you would have let go otherwise.

5. Presenting A Self-Centered And Untidy Resume

Young job seekers usually work too hard on their resume and in that effort, they sometimes end up creating a copy that’s full of pages but lacks the required tidiness and grammatical accuracy. Another big problem I usually come across is the self-centered objective section that talks a lot about a candidate’s goals but very little about the employer’s requirements. To bag the job, one should emphasize more on what he/she can contribute to the firm and present the same on the resume.

6. Thinking That You Have Enough Knowledge

Well, I’ve come across a number of fresh college graduates who feel just because they have completed their graduation with great marks and from an esteemed college or university, they can get any job instantly. That’s not how it works in real life. To tell you the truth, there are a number of employers out there who are not even interested in your GPA or marks. Preparing yourself is a must before you apply for a job. While you are still looking out for the right job, keep revising your studies and never forget to get a hand on new skills that will help you bag the right job.

7. High Salary Expectations

Many young students who have completed their schooling or graduation from a reputed college expect too high of a salary for their first job. Students should keep it in mind to never bar themselves from certain jobs just because they are not paying well. In order to kick-start your career, I would advise you to focus more on your growth potential and knowledge that you’ll gain instead of what you’ll be paid.

8. Lack Of Career Focus

Most of the young grads I have encountered lack the career focus they should have. It is very important for you to have an in-depth knowledge of the career path you have chosen in addition to your passions. Research the field in which you have interest so that you don’t get tongue-tied when an employer asks about it. You would not believe the number of alternate options you’ll find relating to your desired job once you start researching.

9. Limiting Yourself Geographically

It’s an undeniable truth most college grads always prefer certain locations to begin their career. But that’s not how it happens every time. As far as my experience goes, it’s a really bad idea to give up on a certain job just because it asks you to relocate to a specific location. Never limit yourself geographically. Be open to all the jobs, whether they are in your preferred location or require you to shift somewhere else. Don’t be confused between going and staying if you are getting a really nice job. I would suggest the students to focus more on the opportunity that they are getting rather than focusing more on the geographical limits. Always have 2-3 choices for locations so that your career is not put on halt because of such a trivial reason.

10. The Dream Job Crisis

While most students have a dream job for which they work hard day and night, others turn out to be blank when asked about the same. If you have a dream job then it’s time you have a reality check as a majority of people do not land their dream job right after graduation. Waiting for the perfect dream job is a really big mistake many graduates fresh out of college make. While it’s okay to work hard for your dream job, sometimes, it’s better to just accept what’s coming your way in order to find better opportunities with the career growth. Instead of avoiding these jobs altogether, you should embrace them and turn them into a stepping stone towards your dream job.

It’s even better for students who haven’t thought about a dream job just yet. They should be open to any opportunity that comes their way and take it up right away. You never know what could be the turning point in your career. Instead of expecting too much from the first job, I say you should try a number of options and retrospect what you actually like doing.

A tip for all the students: Leverage each interview to learn about the corporate culture and underlying career advancement opportunities. It is your time, put your queries, ask questions and observe how employees interact. It’s okay to fail at some interviews and it is equally okay turn some down, there’s a better opportunity waiting for you out there.

Five Apps to Help Sort Out Your Life

While only you can sort your life out, it is true that little things like your app can make the whole process so much easier for you and enable you to bring about some organization in your life. There is an app for everything now a days – from making you a schedule to prompting you to get on or off one, the push to change your life for good is in your hands.

Wondering what all apps can there be that hold the much wished for support? Here’s a list for you:

1. Shoeboxed

This app is for everyone who wonders where all the money went every month’s end. It lets you keep track of your spending by taking image of the purchase receipts. Shoeboxed gives the opportunity to see where you are spending the most every month, thus helping you curb those expenses.

From the simple personal usage, you can use Shoeboxed to manage your business cards, track mileage, make expense reports, and prepare taxes. The fact that the app makes it so easy to track receipts has made it a prime choice for companies all across the globe.

2. Evernote

This is your one stop solution for all haphazard notes issue. Evernote lets you keep all your to-do lists and ideas to class or office notes in one place and then allows you to view and edit them across a series of devices.

Evernote is not merely a note-taker, it can be the to-do list manager, note-taker, read-later app, reminder, cloud storage service, and you can even use it to scan business card, edit and capture photos, or any document you want.

3. Vent

If there is one thing that scan keep you from bringing you’re a game forward, it’s the pent up feelings. How many times have you found yourself disoriented and confused because you didn’t had anyone to talk to? Vent app helps you talk about your feelings with someone who is willing to hear you out.

The app reads “Voice your opinion to our supportive community without the worry of being insulted or disrespected, de-friended or upsetting people you know” and stands by it through the anonymous feature it offers.

4. LastPass

The one thing that takes most of our time, every day, is trying to remember passwords for the plethora of platforms we are always active on. It either takes a pen and paper or a herculean memory size to store all passwords in. With both being unreliable, LastPass gives you a secure space to store all your email ids and passwords in one place. It saves your passwords even in different browsers.

LastPass is much more than a password storage app, it lets you maintain digital record and online shopping profiles, on the go.

5. Namerick

One of the easiest way to make people like you is by remembering their names. While it sounds easy in saying, it can be much difficult to apply in practice. We meet so many people every single day and with such new faces coming in and out of your life, it can become extremely difficult to keep track of their names, especially when you need their service. Namerick helps you here by associating names to sounds or places or things thus making it easier for you to remember them on time. And the best part is, it lets you store information of when and where you met them and even why you would need them in future!

While the ultimate power to change your life remains in your hand, these five apps can make the transition a little easy for you. You will find a number of other productivity apps in the market that promises just the same. Which one do you use?

Top 5 Places To Read Reviews Before You Download An App

Mobile technology has placed the power to shape our lives in the palm of our hands. Today, people are heavily reliant on their mobile phones/ tablets for rudimentary, as well as more complex day-to-day functions.

App stores are swarming with mobile apps of all shapes and sizes that promise a great deal of value to users. According to an estimate, 50,061 apps were added to app stores this month alone, taking the total number of active apps to an astonishing 3,047,527.

However, this growing number of apps is by no means an indicator of service quality as many of these seemingly revolutionary apps prove completely useless once you download them. 88% of online shoppers are known to rely on online reviews to help them in their pre-purchase analysis. While there are plenty of app review websites, many are thought to be influenced by app manufacturers.

So, where can you access factual and unbiased app reviews when deciding on an app? Here we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 most reliable app review websites based on a strong Alexa rank, number of Facebook and Twitter followers as well as domain authority to help you identify the best app for your need:

1. CNET

CNET hosts the world’s largest repository of tech reviews containing unbiased editorial analysis and ratings for upcoming apps. These reviews owe their popularity to their timing as well as authenticity as CNET publishes detailed editorial reviews as soon as an app hits the market. These introductory reviews are then followed by timely updates like this one from AirG industry that changes throughout the app’s lifecycle including potential recalls or the launch of a competing app.

CNET also offers news and recommendations pertaining to high performing apps, thus readers can easily judge which app will give the most value for time and money. The recommendations made on the website are the result of a strict editorial process based on years of research and experience.

This entails detailed analysis and testing by CNET’s editors and lab staff as well as feedback from users and manufacturers. Their testing methodology is based on accepted industry benchmarks and provides qualitative results as well as comparative data that feed their technical reviews. Coupled with input from expert editors, these reviews give you pretty much everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

2. Business Insider

Business Insider is a German-owned news website that has one of the strongest tech journalist team in the world. It is among the most reliable and popular platforms for reading app reviews. The dependability of app reviews on BI can be gauged by the fact that their tech videos receive a whopping 500 million views per month.

Since BI is a news website, their reviews are usually placed under click-bait and hyperbolic headlines which make them all the more compelling to read. These reviews are published after in-house testing and analysis, incorporating all essential aspects including design, usability, performance, speed and functionality.

3. The Telegraph

The Telegraph is England’s national daily newspaper that has gained worldwide acclaim for providing reliable app reviews on its website. You can find in depth analysis, recommendations as well user-generated comments on the website pertaining to a plethora of applications.

The Telegraph updates content on a daily basis, whereas their app reviews are accessible in their archives. The content of these reviews is highly dependable, much in line with the reputation of their brand and therefore you can easily rely on them while making purchase decisions.

4. Mashable

Mashable is a world renowned multi-platform media and entertainment company that is a go-to destination for tech-related content. The app reviews published at Mashable distinguish themselves by being extremely detailed and fact-based.

They provide you specific information to help you contemplate how using a certain app will be like. These reviews provide you meticulous understanding regarding all aspects of an app, both on its own, as well as in comparison with other apps in the market. Moreover, the website offers lists of most popular apps to help you identify the best app for your needs.

5. Techcrunch

Techcrunch provides the latest technology news and information about tech startups. It hosts engaging app review videos that walk you through all crucial elements of an app’s performance.

These videos are much more effective than written reviews, as they provide analysis by technology experts alongside personal experiences from users in order to help you understand the workings of an application in detail. They also enable you to take optimum advantage of apps by walking you through their features and highlighting their applicability

A brief glance at these websites will not only enlighten you with an app’s performance, but also provide you with helpful tips, enabling you to pick the very best of the lot.

Life Skills for the Digital Age: Choosing the Right Technology

In the last few months, I have been thinking a lot about the skills and knowledge that we need for the digital age. I’m not talking about technology skills, but life skills. In his book, Hamlet’s Blackberry, author William Powers observes that every new technology both solves problems and creates new challenges. He discusses the need, now that we are increasingly connected, to learn the art of disconnecting so we can deepen our both our real life and online experiences.

Disconnecting is not the only skill that we are now being challenged to learn. After a recent podcast interview that I did with Dr. Faye Mishna on cyberbullying and then witnessing several escalating email conflicts among colleagues, I am convinced that there are several new social skills needed to effectively manage relationships in the digital age, or at least the knowledge about where and when to apply skills in these new contexts.

In my own struggles to work productively, I realize that much of what I have struggled with recently has focused on figuring out how to effectively integrate technology into my work and personal life, and how to make sure that I, not the technology, am the one making choices about how and when to be connected.

Here are some questions I have considered that relate to some of the new skills and knowledge we are each now challenged to learn:

  • What social interactions are ideal for text messaging? Chat? Email? Which are not?
  • When does an interaction need to move from a text-based platform, to one that involves voice? Images? Face to face?
  • What is appropriate to share about your workplace on your blog/Facebook/Twitter? About your life?
  • What work tasks are best completed when connected to the Internet? Disconnected?
  • How can we set up our work areas/screens so we can maximize our ability to focus?
  • What evening routines (relative to technology/electronics) promote relaxation and restful sleep?
  • What’s the right balance between technology and non-technology-based activities for free time? What combination will result a true feeling of fulfillment at the end of the day?

As I look through that list, I realize how much of what I read these days focuses on just these issues, e.g., don’t read email first thing in the morning, problems with managing conflict through email/chat/IM, research on how backlit screens disrupt sleep. We are sharing our new life management insights over Twitter, the blogosphere, and productivity books–together we are creating a new knowledge base.

However, I am also aware of how uneven the knowledge dissemination can be and how much students, colleagues, friends, family, and for those of us doing clinical practice, our clients, may vary in how much they know or have even thought about these issues. And I wonder about how kids will learn what they need to know as they negotiate the world if the adults in their lives lag behind (or dismiss) the technologies they are interacting with.

Paradoxically, at the same time our new technologies are challenging us to learn new skills, there are some very old skills that are becoming increasingly relevant. Mindfulness (being fully present in the here and now while also having awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings) is the one that most strongly comes to mind as I review our current challenges. In living mindfully, I am able to observe and learn about how my choices and habits affect me, therefore I can learn from watching myself interact with the world. Perhaps this is the skill we need to be really focusing on as well as the skill we need to teach our children.

What skills or knowledge would you add to the lists I have started?

The Savvy Social Worker’s Guide to Social Media and the Internet

Social media is ever-present and will only continue to grow. As such, social workers need to know how to ethically and successfully navigate the many paths of the online world to protect themselves and more importantly, their clients. Social media in particular can be used in a myriad of ways from networking with other professionals to marketing your practice.

How Social Media Can Be Useful for Social Workers

  • Network with other providers. In addition to networking in person with local social workers, social media platforms give you connections ranging from your own neighborhood to all over the world. While there’s no shortage of social media platforms to choose from, Facebook is clearly the front-runner based on audience engagement according to Tech Times’ analysis of comScore’s data. Below is a chart comparing audience engagement across the top social media platforms.

Due to Facebook’s popularity, there’s a good chance you’ll find a group pertaining to an area of social work that interests you.

Do you want to connect with private practice therapists? There are groups for that.

Are you interested in networking with child welfare or geriatric workers? There are groups for that.

Are you interested social work pertaining to social justice or advocacy? You guessed it – there are groups for that, too!

Your best bet is to get into a secret or closed group. A closed group can be searched for and anyone can find it, but you have to be approved to join and your posts are only seen by members. A secret group is a group you are invited to join so it’s not searchable.

  • Build reputation and showcase expertise. People look up their providers on the web all the time and clients will search for you. If you have professional blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or Pinterest accounts that are public – you control the story you let others see. You choose content that allows clients to get to know you, the practitioner.
  • Use social media to enhance your motivation for your career. Create and develop Pinterest boards with your social work interests. And while you’re at it, blog about social justice issues that are important to you. Exploring your area of interests can remind you why you love what you do!
  • Use discussion boards to connect with other social workers. Engage in conversations about policy and procedures, or concerns with other professionals. You might join a listserv, a therapy site, or even LinkedIn – interact with other professionals, gain knowledge, and share your own thoughts.

How the Internet Can Be Useful for Social Workers

  • Take advantage of online educational opportunities. There are plenty of options online for Bachelors, Masters, and PhDs in social work and related fields. There are also certificates you can earn online to hone your skills and increase credibility. You are no longer confined to your community to find preferred training classes. Online courses are offered for virtually any aspect or specialty of social work.
  • Tele-social work is an option. Online platforms allow social workers to see and talk to their clients, and provide services like therapy, without ever having to step into an office! This can be ideal for clients who live in rural areas, lack the means for proper transportation, or are just having difficulty getting to a traditional office. Using telehealth to reach clients is becoming steadily more popular among doctors and other health providers.

Ethical Considerations

  • Get educated about on-line rules and regulations. Look into classes and certification courses you can take regarding online etiquette. Know that most email is not confidential, and that a telehealth platform has to be HIPAA compliant. With all of the rules governing social work and social media, it’s essential for you to be informed so you don’t make an inadvertent mistake. You can use the following infographic by Scrypt as a quick reference for using social media without violating any HIPAA regulations.
  • Don’t talk about clients online. If you must – keep it in the broadest sense possible. Don’t include any identifying information about your client, not even gender. Social workers often want to share cases and funny stories with their colleagues, or ask for advice from others in the field. Be aware that what you write could get out for anyone to see. Even in a private Facebook group, you’re not going to know all the people who can see the posts.

Before writing anything about a client, consider how they would feel if they knew what you were writing about them. If you are looking for feedback, ask broader questions instead of focusing on a specific client. Instead of saying “I have a client with PTSD and am wondering…?” Try asking “What interventions can people use to help alleviate someone’s symptoms of PTSD?”

  • Avoid looking up your clients online. It is human nature to want to find out more, but doing so can harm the therapeutic relationship. A client will tell you only what they are comfortable sharing. If they ask you to read a blog post they wrote or look up something they were featured in, then by all means do so. When tempted to look, ask yourself what you’ll do with the information you find, and what’s your purpose for searching it out? If it’s simply for the sake of curiosity – stop.
  • Whether you work for a private practice or in an agency, it is vital to have a social media policy in place. Let your clients know you won’t friend them on Facebook or LinkedIn. Set that boundary. You can like, respect, and have an excellent therapeutic relationship with a client, but you are NOT their friend.
  • Nothing truly disappears on the Internet. Even if you delete a tweet or blog post – it’s still findable. It is a good rule to not put anything on the Internet you wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone you know – including grandma and your boss – seeing. If you have a personal Facebook page, blog, or other social media account – keep the privacy settings high. Realize even when you post privately, your post isn’t always private. It comes down to not writing or posting anything that you are not willing to be a representation of you to the world.

Like many professions in the 21st century, the Internet has been an amazing asset to social workers. This technology allows us to connect with peers, colleagues, and clients from all over the world, but it can also land you in hot water if you’re not careful. Luckily there’s a vast supply of online resources and courses you can take to help you have a successful and secure virtual presence.

Here’s How Technology Is Providing Support For Dementia Patients

Dementia is one of our time’s leading epidemics currently affecting over 24 million people globally. This has forced governments to catapult healthcare costs to unsettling proportions. These strikingly huge and rapidly increasing numbers have caused researchers across the globe to find a cure for the ailment and unveil ways of improving the quality of life of patients.

Even though a cure for dementia is yet to be found, these escalated research efforts along with groundbreaking developments in electronic/ mobile healthcare have given rise to an array of self-help technologies for patients.

These tools are aimed at facilitating dementia patients at every stage of their condition and include cognitive screening tests, assistive technology and self-care apps all aimed at allowing patients to reclaim control of their health. Here we take a deeper look into how these technological advancements are providing support for dementia patients and their caretakers worldwide.

Benefits of healthcare technology for dementia patients

Healthcare devices go a long way in supporting dementia patients and caregivers by developing a safer environment for them, engaging them, managing their behaviors non-pharmacologically and reliably monitoring them from a distance. The most noteworthy advantages of such healthcare technologies include:

i. Early diagnosis and intervention:

Dementia is irreversible. However, early intervention and healthy lifestyle choices can be monumental in improving the quality of life of patients. This is because an early intervention enables physicians to identify the cause of the ailment well in time to curtail its progression. However, despite this, we see that most dementia patients hesitate to open up to a healthcare professional about the difficulties that they are facing and often wait as long as seven years before finally seeking medical help.

Also, many times the patient him/herself remains unaware of their symptoms and therefore tries to avoid medical consultation about the matter. To overcome this pattern of delayed diagnosis, many healthcare platforms have conjured up cognitive screening tests that can be used by patients and their caregivers to detect the presence of cognitive ailments early on. The results from these tests can then be used as grounds for gaining a thorough clinical diagnosis.

ii. Functioning and Independence:

By hindering routine activities, dementia considerably raises healthcare costs for patients and places a great deal of burden on their caregivers. However, supportive technologies go a long way in remedying this by enabling patients to independently carry out routine activities and reducing their neuropsychiatric symptoms.

iii. Support for caregivers:

Telehealth devices possess great applicability both at home as well as care facilities and work to significantly reduce stress for both patients and their caregivers.

These devices include video monitoring technologies that allow patients and caregivers to conveniently and instantly reach healthcare professionals for counseling. Moreover, they also include sensors, flood detectors, extreme temperature detectors, CO detectors, medication reminders and bed occupancy detectors.

iv. Safety:

Safety devices allow for detailed patient security and include surveillance equipment, exit-sensors, injury prevention tools, door security bars, location sensors, touchpad key locks and window sensors among others.

v. Behavioral management:

Studies have found that the use of non-pharmacological treatments such as music, vibrating tubes, fiber optic string lights, aroma diffusers, solar effects projectors and plasma balls are instrumental in the behavioral management of dementia patients.

This is because multi-sensory intervention leads to an improved attention span, impulsiveness and consequently lead to reduced levels of agitation and anxiety in patients.

Technologies that support dementia patients

Here are some technologies that are improving the lives of dementia patients and caregivers the world over:

1. Cognitive screening apps for patients and caretakers:

Cognitive screening tests are brief self-assessment instruments that can be used by patients as well as their caregivers to detect the presence of cognitive ailments. These tests are available in electronic format online and can also be downloaded in the form of an app to help you monitor your own or your loved one’s cognitive performance.

Moreover, apps such as Brain Test go one step further by allowing patients and their caregivers to identify the presence of cognitive dissonance and monitor patient progress over time.

2. Assistive technology:

Dementia causes a decline in the cognitive abilities of patients, eventually inhibiting them from carrying out simple day to day activities. Therefore, it is tremendously encouraging to note that there are several devices and systems available nowadays that allow dementia patients to perform these crucial tasks independently.

These devices include low-tech items such as walking sticks and frames, calendar clocks and bath aids, etc. In addition to high-tech items like telecare and automatic lighting among others.

The term ‘telecare‘ here refers to detectors and sensors such as movement, smoke, flood, gas or fall detectors that generate a signal via a base unit which is connected to a telephone line in use by the caregiver or monitoring service. These devices can also be used to quickly call for medical assistance as and when needed. Primarily categorized based on the need their core purpose; these devices include:

  • Supportive technologies that assist individuals in completing tasks.
  • Preventive technologies that protect patients from harm and trigger alarms.
  • Responsive technologies that allow for thorough risk management.

3. Apps connecting patients to fitness resources:

As people age, they tend to avoid complicated gadgets such as PCs and this hesitation increases yet further in dementia patients who may not find the strength to use such complex devices.

This avoidance of technology increases the risk of isolation among dementia patients and also refrains them from acquiring knowledge that is necessary to manage and improve their condition. However, in such cases, mobile devices like as tablets prove extremely useful as they are more intuitive to use and avoid the complexity of a mouse, keyboard and operating system.

It is for this reason that we see healthcare applications proving extremely effective in connecting dementia patients with the world around them.  This allows dementia patients to access online fitness resources across multiple mobile devices. These resources help dementia patients in staying fit but also allow them to record and evaluate their progress over time.

Advancements in the field of dementia research are ongoing at an exponential pace, and therefore we can expect to see more groundbreaking technologies surface in the years to come.

Tweeting the Way to Health: Penn Medicine Launches Center for Digital Health

PHILADELPHIA — Across the world, social media users leave a trail of clues about themselves each time they Tweet, post to Facebook, write a Yelp review, and apply a filter and hashtags to their latest Instagram photo. Under the leadership of Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP, researchers and physicians at Penn Medicine are mining those clues to find what ails them – and how to fix it.

Merchant has been named an Associate Vice President for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Director of the newly created Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health.

“Connectivity and innovation are central elements of Penn Medicine’s strategic plan, and a large and increasing proportion of our patients engage with the world digitally,” said Ralph W. Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “Dr. Merchant’s visionary research is harnessing the power of this engagement to transform the way we deliver health care.”

The Center for Digital Health evolved from Penn Medicine’s Social Media Laboratory, led by Merchant since 2013. Her cultivation of partnerships from across the university — with Wharton, Annenberg, and the School of Engineering and Applied Science — have mapped a strategy and process to systematically evaluate how social media platforms can affect health, and develop new ways for clinicians to improve care delivery through these channels.

Merchant, who is also an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and has secondary appointments in General Internal Medicine and Anesthesia and Critical Care, began her research career in emergency medicine focusing on cardiac arrest. In 2012, she led the MyHeartMap Challenge, a crowdsourcing contest that sent Philadelphians into the community to identify, photograph, and submit locations of lifesaving automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Using the data gleaned from contest participants, her team created a mobile app that maps AEDs throughout the city, putting them at the fingertips of bystanders who can act quickly to save a life when cardiac arrest strikes.

Merchant describes her team’s research as probing “the social mediome” — a way of collectively describing people or groups based on their digital data merged with their health record data. So far, her work has demonstrated the value of mining Yelp reviews for information about patients’ experiences in hospitals, mapped ways in which social media may be harnessed for emergency preparedness and response, and shown that information donated by patients from their Facebook accounts may be paired with their electronic medical records to yield new insights about their health. New areas of research for the Center for Digital Health include identification of factors linked to depression and obesity, and studying social media to trace language changes that may be associated with Alzheimer’s or other types of cognitive decline.

Merchant earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University. She completed medical school and residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Chicago and came to Penn as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar, joining the faculty in the department of Emergency Medicine in 2010. She has also served as a policy scientist for the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2012, she was named one of the top 10 national leaders in health care under the age of 40 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and she has been named by Philadelphia magazine as one of the city’s top doctors under 40.

5 Apps to Take Care of Your Mental Health

We take great measures to look after our physical and emotional health – eating vegan, exercising, getting therapy and more. But, what we often forget is that taking care of our mental health is just as important. Good mental health strengthens and supports our ability to have healthy relationships, make good life choices, maintain physical health and well-being, handle the natural ups and downs of life and discover and grow towards our potential.

As the occurrence of dysfunctional behavior like depression and uneasiness increases amongst adults, clinicians have moved to mobile applications as a technique to help their patients. These applications can be equally useful for teenagers and adults experiencing dysfunctional behavior because of their constant use of technology.

Mental health apps help users by providing relevant information and techniques of coping with mental stress, anxiety and other disorders. Seeking professional care is the course of action you should take,in the case of a mental disorder, but these apps can be cohesive with a complete mental wellness plan.

The applications can be useful as an approach to connect with individuals who might be unwilling to go into therapy. Specialists trust that these applications will work best when integrated with personal therapy and medication.

Here are 5 best mental health apps that help look after your psychological wellbeing and make you feel great from the inside out.

1. Optimism

Optimism is a group of applications that tracks emotions and mental wellness of a user on a regular basis. The self-tracking app is designed to enhance the users’ understanding of the constituents that have a huge influence on a person’s mental health.

The main purpose of the app is to assist users in keeping mental illnesses such as dementia, anxiety and depression at bay. The app helps users identify mood patterns and then develops a wellness plan that manages bipolar disorder, depression, stress, anxiety and other serious mental health concerns.

Key features of the app include developing and monitoring strategies, customized according to the users’ preferences to help maintain good health. It helps in understanding the ‘triggers’ that are early warning signs.

The Optimism self-tracking app charts and reports a feedback loop. It allows you to update your records as your circumstances change to help increase your self-understanding.

2. Breathe2Relax

Breathe2Relax is a mental health app designed to help people with stress. It offers breathing exercises that help reduce stress, stabilize moods and emotions. The app teaches users to practice breathing techniques to curtail overwhelming feelings.

The Breathe2Relax demonstrates breathing techniques and provides timed cycles for inhaling and exhaling. These can be personalized to cater to unique breathing patterns of every individual.

The app also features a wide collection of soothing music to help with your breathing cycles. Users insert their levels of stress before and after finishing a breathing cycle and the responses are tracked on a graph for analysis and comparison over a period of time. The app is a must try for all users of ages 6 and above. Breathe2Relax is available on both iOS and Android.

3. Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind meditation is a non-profit website featuring an effective meditation program designed by educators and psychologists to help add mindfulness into people’s lives. The personalized meditation app delivers meditation exercises on the basis of age.

According to their website, Smiling Mind exists to help build individual mental health and wellbeing through positive, pre-emptive tools based on mindfulness meditation. The app is best suited for beginners and teenagers. The app was created with an aim to bring a balance into your life and put a smile on your face no matter where you are.

4. Super Better 

Super Better mental wellness app has helped over half a million people accomplish personal growth and handle challenges that life has thrown at them. The app helps users develop personal flexibility and tools to creatively manage their problems.

The app has been designed after detailed consultations with medical researchers, psychologists, scientists and doctors. Super Better mental wellness gaming app is basically a video game that helps users create their own quests and gain support from others when attempting to defeat the enemies.

Several people use and rely on Super Better app all around the world and here are some reasons why:

  • To take up a new habit, learn new talents, enhance their aptitude, fortify relationships, accomplish a physical or athletic challenge, finish significant ventures, or go after a dream.
  • To beat despondency, conquer nervousness, adapt to unending sickness or constant agony, recuperate from physical damage, or recoup from post-traumatic anxiety.
  • To beat a persistent challenge like finding another employment opportunity, surviving separation, or lamenting the passing of a friend or family member.
  • To help other people: therapists prescribe Super Better to patients; college educators integrate Super Better into their coursework, life coaches refer the app to their clients while HR experts incorporate the app into the employee’s wellness incentive programs.

5. Headspace Meditation app

Headspace’s meditation app is an award winning application that helps you live a healthier and happier life with merely 10 minutes of daily guided meditation.

The app creates self-awareness with your thoughts and emotions; it even helps you calm down in times of stress. A straightforward teacher, the Headspace app helps you learn the very basics of visualization and breathing – two integral parts of meditation.

According to company reports, the app had over 8.5 million users until mid-2016, including Olympic athletes, Wall Street wolves and celebrity executives. Companies such as Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Goldman Sachs have bought subscriptions of the headspace app for their employees to help control increasing levels of stress at work.

Headspace Meditation app is free for download; however a subscription unravels complete access to all of the lessons.

Just like eating right and exercising to stay physically fit and healthy, incorporating mental exercises into your daily routine is important to sustain mental well-being and keep mental disorders like stress, anxiety and depression at bay. Most of these apps are available for both Androids & iOS in Google Play and Apple Store, respectively.

Which apps do you use to look after your mental health? Please let us know in the comments section below.

10 Apps That Can Impact And Change The World

The world needs to change and now the power to change the world is in your click. It is time you take control and participate in the betterment of world. Here are 10 apps that can impact the world and change it for the good of humankind and nature.

1. Tree Planet 2

The user grows, fertilizes, waters, and defends a virtual tree in this game. For every tree that is grown virtually on this app, a real tree is planted by the Korean company behind this app.

2. Dare to Donate

The app makes the users vote for their friends who would complete a dare in exchange for donation. It is free for charities and fundraisers.

3. HTC Power to Give

You can provide power to a scientific project of your taste by plugging your Android phone and connecting it to Wi-fi. The app adds your spare computing power to a grid that then provide power to research facilities.

4. Feedie

25 cents is donated to The Lunchbox Fund, a nonprofit company, which uses the money to provide meals to students across South Africa. All you have to do is take the photo of food served at one of the participating restaurant and share it on social media.

5. Leftover Swap

Using this app, the food givers take images of their left overs and post them on the app. Following which the volunteers organize a collection and give the left overs to the needy.

6. Charity Miles

This app makes your every step count, literally. It donates 10 cents per mile that you bike and 25 cents per mile that you have ran to a charity of your choice. All that you have to do is post your progress on social media.

7. The One

The app connects people globally for them to join hands to do ethical protesting and campaign.

8. Get Rich or Die Smoking

This app showcases the exact amount of currency that you can save by quitting cigarettes. It lists down the various things that you can buy from the all the money that you have now saved.

9. Give Work

This iPhone app links users with the refugees of Kenya so that they work alongside one another and complete short onscreen tasks. The app supports Samasource’s, the developer company, training programs by sourcing money and facilitates in identifying the skills it should impart.

10. Check in for Good

The participating business donates 1$ to a cause that you have chosen whenever you check in their premises. They also give you coupons and incentives to visit again.

While these are just these 10 apps that are listed here, which can change the world, there are many more apps and websites that can make it a better place. You just need to know where to look and then have the push to change the world.

8 Ways to Stay Productive When Working from Home

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Looking for tips on how to remain productive while working from home? More and more people each day are turning homeward as their place for doing business.

Sometimes this happens because companies are sending their employees into remote offices in-order to decrease budget expenses.  At other times this is happening because more and more people are starting their own businesses from home rather than relying on corporate America.

Whatever your case is, you can be assured that many people in today’s business world are looking for opportunities to work from home. After all, this means that they will be able avoid traffic snarls, weather delays, and the thermostat setting drama of a cubicle among other advantages.

Working outside of the traditional office setting, however, creates its own unique challenges.  One of the biggest challenges is found in maintaining a consistent level of productivity throughout the day.

How to Maintain Productivity While Working from Home

  1. Get into the Office Setting

To be productive, you need to act like you are going to work, simply because you are. Since you have engineered your home for maximum relaxation and comfort, you might not be able to work well within that setting. This is because the brain associates daytime TV and pajamas with lazy weekend mornings.

Therefore, you should switch into work mode when and as required. Make some tea/coffee, hop into the shower, and get dressed in clothing that passes for a work-casual style. Kick-starting your body into thinking it is work time will improve your productivity.

  1. Compartmentalize Space

Instead of confining your life to your bedroom, create a designated space in your home for work. The space should be away from where you sleep and/or spend time with family.

  1. Listen to Ambient Music

Working outside the home is refreshing. So, go out to a coffee shop every occasionally in-order to refresh your productivity and creativity from the external noises. Per a University of Chicago peer-reviewed study, moderate levels of ambient noise are great for creative cognition.

If you want to stay indoors, consider joining sites like COFFITIVITY and listen to the music while working.

  1. Keep in Touch

Regular communication and human interaction is vital to your productivity while working from home. Since you won’t be able to stop by your colleagues for a quick chat, you need to be dedicated to communication teams.

Get in touch with other team members to check in. This will ensure that you are in touch with what is happening in the outside world. Consider the following tools:

  • a) Email

Email is ideal for formal check-ins, as well as for requesting or sharing complex information, resources, and documents.

  • b) Instant Messaging

IM is better for less formal updates and check-ins, as well as quick questions needing timely answers.

  • c) Video Calls

Use Google Hangouts or Skype to discuss meetings and ideas with your peers, management and customers or clients.

  • d) Website Comments

Stay in touch with the latest in your industry as you make a site comment on a blog or forum and track the conversation to see what you learn from the digital interactivity.

  1. Cut out Distractions

Although you have the freedom to create a wonderful playlist, you need to keep away from anything that might distract you when you are working. The top distractions to ward off while working include:

  • Music
  • Pets
  • Children
  • Visitors
  • Deliveries
  1. Always Prepare

Anticipate your needs before you start working. Then, have an adequate supply of coffee, printer ink, and pens – as well as anything else you might need while in the work process. This way, you will not easily be distracted or tempted to stop working to get the supplies. Additionally, ensure that you have adequate lighting and a great working space complete with a comfortable office chair.

  1. Keep Fit

Since your kitchen is so close, you need to eat healthy to keep in shape. Cultivate good nutrition habits and plan healthy and simple snacks and meals that you can easily eat during your breaks.

  1. Take Breaks

Finally, take regular breaks. Studies show that the most productive people focus for around 52 minutes and disengage from work for 17 minutes. Such rest periods will help your mind to return to work refreshed.

The above ways will go a long way in ensuring that you are more productive – probably even more than when you had a regular 9-5 work schedule.

When I began working from my own home office it was a challenge to keep focused, energized and committed.  However, the benefits absolutely outweigh the disadvantages.

Tap into these tips today for your own home office and watch as your productivity soars in the right direction.

R U There? How Crisis Text Line is Using Technology To Its Advantage

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Nancy Lublin giving a TedTalk on the creation of CrisisTextLine.org

Crisis Text Line was launched quietly with no marketing initiative in late 2013. Within a few months, they were operating in all area codes in the United States which is a faster growth than when Facebook was launched.

Crisis Text Line received more than 6.5 million texts in less than two years, from the date the algorithms were developed. For instance, if a text uses the words ‘rubber band’ and ‘MG’ there is a 99% match for substance abuse. This prompts the counsellor to ask specific questions or highlights the nearest drug centres to the texter.

Data and evidence can make research, policy, policing and school boards better and more effective to helping young people who are being bullied, suffering from eating disorders or being abused. Crisis Text Line believe in open collaboration and sharing the information they have learnt on social media and at conferences in an effort to help inform others’ practice. This data has been made public and available on www.crisistrends.org.

Crisis Text Line serves anyone, and it is free and available to use 24/7. Texters just need to text ‘START’ to 741741 from anywhere in the USA about any type of crisis, and a trained counsellor will receive and respond quickly. Counsellors are volunteers, and they aim to help move the texter from a hot moment to a cool moment. Texts to Crisis Text Line are free from all major phone networks including, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile which was announced in July 2015. These networks also announced texts to Crisis Text Line would not appear on billing statements allowing texters privacy and confidentiality in moments of crisis.

Whilst Crisis Text Line believes that science and technology make them better able to respond faster and more accurately, they do not think robots make great Crisis Counsellors. This means that every text you send will be viewed by a human.

Crisis Text Line aim to respond to texts within 5 minutes. However, if the service is extremely busy the waiting time may increase. Currently, the system is only able to process 140 characters in one text message. The service can also be reached through Facebook Messenger which is located through Facebook’s Safety checkpoint. Anonymity still applies and Crisis Text Line will not have access to your profile information. If you would like your data deleted via Facebook messenger you should message Crisis Text Line back with the word ‘LOOFAH’, they will scrub your data from the system and ask Facebook to do this too! Although Crisis Text Line provides a free resource for people to access in times of crisis, it is not a replacement for long-term counselling, therapy and/or a friend.

Crisis Text Line was founded by Nancy Lublin, Founder of Do Something, who saw a need for a service to help people in crisis. In her TED Talk, Lublin cites the text of one young person  who stated that, “he won’t stop raping her, it’s her dad, R U there?”. From this, Nancy knew she had to create a crisis text line because young people communicate primarily through texts.

Text messaging is private, no one can hear you, the messages given are just the facts and not communicated through ‘ums’ ‘ahs’, or hysterical crying. This meant that counsellors could act quickly and in some cases trigger active rescues which can save a young person’s life. Crisis Text Line initiate 2.41 active rescues each day. Crisis Text Line does not respond to texts chronologically, and they triage texts based on crisis level. Their goal is to provide a service that will help people in crisis get the best support they can give when experiencing a crisis.

If you are interested in becoming a Crisis Counsellor, you must pass a background check, have a US Social Security number, be at least 18 years old, have computer access with a secure internet connection and be able to commit to volunteering 4 hours per week for one year. The application process is rigorous, and it involves a lot of training that will prepare you for what you might experience.

If volunteering is not something you could commit to, you could also donate. Crisis Text Line is a non-for-profit organisation and any donation would help them to develop their service so that they can reach more people experiencing crisis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOtFDsC8JC0

Five Personal Safety Apps for Women

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Photo Credit: Onguardhelp App

It’s no secret that women are vulnerable targets for crime and violence. In fact, studies have estimated that up to one in three women will become the victim of some form of violence in their lifetime.

It’s been appropriately described as a pandemic, and even as we move toward recognizing and protecting the rights of all people, the problem of violence against women remains. Fortunately, technology has provided useful tools for women to protect themselves and take their safety into their own hands. If you’re concerned with your personal security, take a look at the five apps below and the ways they may be able to help.

Guardly

In an emergency, time is often your most valuable resource. Guardly is based on that fact, and the key to its operation is the ability to quickly and efficiently contact both loved ones and, if necessary, 911 or other authorities. Using the app, you can preprogram various types of emergencies – everything from assault to robbery to allergic reactions or other medical emergencies – and specify exactly who you would like contacted. The app also provides a profile where you can input your personal details, relevant medical information, important contacts and other information that may be useful in the event of an emergency.

Circle of 6

In 2011, the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services created the Apps Against Abuse Challenge, a program aimed at developing new ways for young people, and particularly young women, to protect themselves and seek help when needed. Circle of 6 was one of two winning apps, and for good reason. The app makes it easy for you to input your own “Circle of 6” – six friends, family members or other people you would like to contact when you need support. After that, calling for help is just two quick touches away.

The app instantly sends one of three preset text messages to your six supporters, along with your current address and a map of your precise location. Whether it’s simply requesting a ride home, a phone call to get you away from an uncomfortable situation or an emergency requiring immediate help, assistance is never more than two touches away. The app also provides national abuse hotline numbers and can be programmed with numbers for local authorities.

Vivint Sky

When you think of dangerous situations, you probably conjure up images of empty streets and dark alleyways. The reality, however, is that even your home may not be as safe as you believe. The Vivint Sky App, and its associated security systems and optional components, seeks to change that through home automation and security tools. The app can put virtually your entire home at your fingertips, allowing you to lock doors, control lights, remotely view security cameras and much more, all from a computer, smartphone or other mobile device.

Sky also provides automation tools so that you can set your lighting, door locks, HVAC and other home components to a predetermined schedule. Additionally, the system can incorporate smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and other home safety features to keep you as safe as possible.

bSafe

When it comes to personal security, few apps provide as many features as bSafe. You can send notifications to your friends when you’ve arrived at a destination, allow trusted people to track your movements via GPS and request a fake phone call to excuse yourself from a difficult situation. In an emergency, bSafe becomes even more powerful. It can instantly trigger an audible alarm, send your location to friends and family, broadcast live video from your phone or tablet’s camera and record timestamps, geo-locations and other data that may prove useful to authorities. You can also use bSafe to set up alerts and emergency messages that will be automatically triggered if you fail to check in at predetermined times.

cab4me

Sometimes all you want is to go home, but finding a safe ride can be difficult. The cab4me app all but eliminates this problem by making it quick and simple to find a trusted taxi cab service wherever you go. Using your GPS data or a manually set pickup location, the app searches for taxi services that are willing to pick you up at the specified place and time. The app only lists trusted taxi services, so there’s no need to worry about whether the cab that arrives is safe to use. You can easily contact the taxi company of your choice, and the app also displays information such as car choices and payment options where available.

The world isn’t always a safe place for women. A woman alone on the street is often seen as a particularly vulnerable target for crime, and domestic violence and sexual assault are ever-present concerns. There is no way to completely prevent violence and other dangers, but apps like the ones above can go a long way toward empowering women everywhere to live their lives more safely and confidently.

Jessica Valenti and the Silencing of Women Online

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I should not have to fear for my kid’s safety because I write about feminism. – Jessica Valenti on her Twitter account on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

Recently, a prominent feminist writer and best-selling author Jessica Valenti quit Twitter after waking up to a death and rape threat directed at her 5 year-old daughter. In a series of tweets, she urged law enforcement services to act upon the online hate and harassment that women are directly victims of on the web. This occurs only a couple of days after Ghostbusters superstar Leslie Jones left the social media platform after being targeted online by harmful sexist and racist comments .

The sad part is that both Valenti and Jones aren’t isolated cases. In a piece written 2014 called Why Women Aren’t Welcomed on the Internet, Amanda Hess highlighted that this kind of harassment is not unusual for women who take a public stance for women’s rights and feminism. Although both men and women can receive unwanted comments, the deep nature of the messages received by women is rooted in misogyny and have greater chances to be sexualized. Women also outnumber men in these cases. According to the volunteer organization Working to Halt Online Abuse, out of the 3,787 people who reported harassing incidents from 2000 to 2012, they reported 72.5 percent were female.

Leslie Jones made this tweet when she was thinking about leaving Twitter. Then Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, reached out to her personally.

This cybersexism starts very early on. An Australian study suggested that women under 30 are particularly at risk of gender-based online harassment which has been qualified by researchers as an “established norm in our digital society” nowadays. Police services do not take these online threats seriously leaving victims feeling powerless over the hate received.

This not only impacts those who directly experience online abuse but also those who watch it occur. When we know that race, gender and class are intersecting realities, those who are impacted by various forms of oppression will be reduced to silence more than it is already the case.

The web doesn’t create a safe space for marginalized voices and communities to stand out and shine. If we want rich and diverse conversations to happen on the social issues that affect our world, we need to make this online hate speech stop now and especially for those at the very center of intersectionality.

End of Life “Yelp” for When You Need Help Making Funeral Decisions

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Finding the best food in town is easy thanks to Yelp, but finding the best funeral home is a more difficult task. As many social workers who deal with end of life issues can attest to, picking a funeral home isn’t easy. Social workers are required to provide families with a list of funeral homes. And, often times a social worker has to call each one to confirm the price and location. But all of that is changing with a simple idea.

Parting.com has made it phenomenally easier for anyone to go online and find a funeral home in their area. End of life issues are not easy to deal with along with the fees involved. Parting.com clears up both of these issues by providing a clear list of funeral homes with estimated costs.

Below is my brief interview with the creators of Parting.com:

What made you and your team start Parting?

Last year after Tyler’s grandmother passed away, he volunteered to help plan her funeral. He went online to try to find a funeral home, and that’s when he quickly realized that the information online to compare his options were extremely limited and hard to find. It took him 4-5 days to compare prices and choose a funeral home because he had to find and call each one to find out more information. With Parting, the process of finding and comparing funeral homes now takes 10 minutes. We started at Parting.com with the mission to make sure families don’t get taken advantage of during their difficult time by equipping them with the knowledge about their funeral home options before ever having to contact them.

Who can Parting most help?

Parting can help families who either have an immediate need for funeral services or are planning for the future.With Parting, families can find and compare funeral homes so they can confidently and quickly choose a funeral service provider. We provide families a list of funeral homes in their local area and allow them to comparison shop based on prices, photos, and reviews. We also have resources that can guide families through what service options are right for them. These decisions can seriously impact the families financially, and it’s important to us that they can prepare themselves in the comfort of their own home without any pressure from a funeral home.

As we started talking to social workers in hospitals and hospice, we realized that Parting is actually solving a serious problem social workers are facing. While the average person may have to deal with a death of a loved one only a few times in their life, a social worker is constantly helping families with these choices. We’ve found that almost all social workers in hospices and hospitals have been forced to create their own funeral home database in excel or word from anecdotal information or past funeral homes they’ve worked with. They are often asked questions about prices or services they don’t have the answer to, which makes their job a lot harder than it should be.

Parting is a completely free tool for social workers to utilize that will hopefully make their jobs a little bit easier. Social workers at hospitals like Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and hospices like Vitas Healthcare or Gentiva Hospice, pass out our pamphlets to their families when they are faced with funeral decisions. For a limited time, we are offering social workers the chance to order our pamphlets for free here: http://socialworker.parting.com/

How does the Parting rating system work?
Our users come to our site and rate the funeral homes from a 1 to 5 star scale. We accumulate the ratings and create an average rating for each funeral home.

How much does Parting cost?
Parting is absolutely free for anyone looking to compare funeral services in their area.

Can Funeral Homes pay for better ratings?
No. Funeral homes cannot pay for better ratings or to delete unwanted reviews. They can also not pay to alter or hide their prices. The information on the page cannot be influenced by payment.

What do other sites charge and why are you free?
Other sites often charge up to $40 for each search. We provide this information for free because we feel it should be provided to everyone so that they can make well-informed choices when choosing funeral services.

Do you feel like transparency will help bring prices down for this industry?

It wasn’t our intention, but shortly after we made the prices available, we were told by a funeral director that he had lowered his costs because he realized that he was charging more than other providers in his area. This is great news that some are taking the initiative to find what is a fair price to charge a family. We do caution though, that while price should be a major factor in choosing a funeral home, it should definitely not be the only one. We have seen such a huge difference in offerings from funeral homes with some being newly renovated or having huge chapels to accommodate large gatherings that it is completely understandable to be more expensive. Every family is going to have different needs and our goal is to connect each family with the right provider.

How have you tested your site so less tech savvy (older adults) have an easier time using it?
We are constantly trying to simplify the process so that everyone can understand and use Parting. We have all had our parents and grandparents use the site so that we can make sure the can get the information they are searching for easily. It is Grandma-tested and Mother-approved!

If I were to use your site today how long do you think it would take me to find a funeral home?Walk me through the process step by step.

It takes less than 10 minutes.

1. First, you enter your zip code or city:

Parting homepage
Parting homepage

2. Once you get a list of funeral homes in your local area, you sort the funeral homes according to your preferences, whether its location, price or ratings. Then you click on a funeral home that you are interested in:

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3. When you choose a funeral home, you can contact them call to make an appointment:

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Do you offer any programs for families in need? Such as deals for certain funeral homes based on need, as many social workers deal with populations with very low-income.

The demand for more affordable options is apparent and we recognize that it is definitely an issue, and so as we expand, we are going to make sure that we give funeral homes the ability to advertise their packages which often times contain more affordable options for indigent families.

Parting.com takes a process that normally would take hours and simplify it to minutes. For social workers, it gives clients peace of mind and information they seek while saving hours on the phone.

Tired of Googling “Food Pantry”?

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As social workers, we’re asked to remember and interpret thousands of pieces of information every day. Our clients expect us to know and to remember. We’re asked to recall the names of distant cousins, specific traumatic incidents that shaped a client’s life course, birthdays, allergies, the list goes on and on.

What’s more, we’re asked to be resource experts. Our clients trust us to have the best, most accurate information about the resources they need. Where’s the closest food pantry to my home? What shelter is accepting new clients? What after school programs are available for my child? We want to help but, at times, our ability to do so is limited by the information we’re given (or not given).

Healthify, a web-based social services resource search platform, seeks to help you solve this problem.

What is Healthify?

Healthify allows you to quickly and easily search for food, shelter, mental health care, and many more program categories, by zip code, city or even street address.

What’s more, accounts are completely free for community based organizations and non-profits. Users can:

  • Search our database of 180,000 social service resources
  • Share resources easily with teammates
  • Download directions
  • Leave comments for yourself and your colleagues about the quality of care your clients received while at a program
  • Communicate instantly with Healthify staff to get more information, share concerns and give feedback.

How did Healthify start?

Healthify founders, Alex, Dan, Eric and Manik had seen hundreds of patients in Baltimore whose health was adversely affected by social circumstances or behavioral health conditions. They simply didn’t have the tools to effectively address their needs or coordinate their care with other providers and social services agencies. Healthify was created with the idea of using the best that software had to offer in order to solve some of the worst issues faced by the American healthcare system.

The Community Care Network

It was my dream to create a linked network of high quality social service agencies across the United States. We so often rely on personal connections and relationships at individual agencies in order to meet our clients’ needs and determine what and where the most effective services are. What if we were all linked together through a common network striving to affect positive change in the world?

The Community Care Network helps to make my dream a reality.  You can share ideas, find events, and collaborate with users in your field of work.

  • Start searching Healthify’s network of social services, by visiting: .
  • Join our social network here: .

Sound like a good idea? Join Healthify today.

The Law of Digital Attraction: How to be Personal, Authentic and a Warm Person Online

Social Workers often struggle with their visibility, and by nature many don’t like the spotlight and prefer to put others in front of the stage like our clients or our volunteers while we stay rather invisible.

This is a world-wide problem. When we are invisible, we say, “We are not worthy to be seen.” It’s like digging our own grave. And even this is not what we want. This is not how we feel. And in a way, we create our own problem.

Why are we doing this? Are we stupid? No, we are not! Social Workers are smart people. But there’s another phenomenon that’s keeping us imprisoned: we are modest. We are too modest! And many Social Workers are real introverts which may sometimes be to our detriment. Have you ever done the Myers & Briggs test to find out? Go here and you’ll know it in a second >>>

There’s nothing wrong with being modest. There’s a Dutch saying: “bescheidenheid siert de mens,” which translate to “modesty is a virtue.” But when modesty is causing invisibility, a problem arises.

IMG_5992There were times when invisibility was not an issue. Our jobs were respected. There was enough money. And no one discussed the results of our efforts. In times of prosperity, there is less need to be critical. But in times of scarcity, people start to ask critical questions, do we really need this? Do we really need Social Workers?

Times have changed. And with the internet being widely popular, our society is more transparent. The economic crisis caused money to be scarce. And stakeholders suddenly want to know more about us. They ask questions like:

•Why does this cost so much?

•What are the results of your job?

•How about your education and licenses?

These questions can cause social workers to crawl into a shell and don’t share the answers. It can cause them to retract to their offices and hide from the world. This is not the time to do so!!!

Social workers have to show up and advocate for their profession. They must be visible and crystal clear about their values. 

The law of attraction says like brings like and focusing on positive energy will attract positive thoughts and reactions. So social workers have to show up and be visible to attract clients, money, success and wealth. But first, you have to plant seeds, water and nurse it. It all starts with showing up in a way that you want others to respond.

I’m aware that this might be a huge shift for you. That this could be something you’ve been struggling with. And let’s be honest, we’re not going to solve this in one blog post. But one beneficial tip that could go a long way, start with your digital attraction. Most social workers are online. They log in to their Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest accounts. This is a great chance to boost visibility. Use this as a time to show your friendly faces, share posts about your passion, results of your job and share stories about happy clients.

Too often social workers who have profiles on different platforms, aren’t using them to their full potential. But for modest people like us, it’s the easiest way to start. Look at your profile picture! Is this you? Are you showing a friendly face? Does it look warm and professional? If social workers present themselves online as personal, authentic, warm and loving professionals, they will reap the benefits.

Should Social Workers Get on the Telemental Health Wagon?

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Photo Credit: La Clínica del Pueblo

There was a huge smile awaiting me at the other end of the screen. I had been anticipating this moment with some degree of anxiety. I had been to trainings, conducted several dry runs, and attended scores of meetings to prepare for what was about to unfold. “This is weird,” she said. I validated her feelings and laughed along with her. There she was, my first telemental health client.

When I first interviewed for a mental health job and I discovered the position was for a telemental health therapist who will provide therapy through video, my first thought was: therapy through this mode couldn’t possibly work. So many questions came up: “how can you build solid rapport and trust through a camera”?  Is this HIPAA compliant? How could I deal with a client in crisis?

I went home and I was surprised by my strong reactions to the interview. I thought: why was I so certain that this could not work when I have not even tested it?

After some self-reflection and checking in on my assumptions, I discovered that my skepticism and fears emerged from the “not knowing stance.” I had heard about telemental health loosely, mainly through Facebook ads that bombard my account promoting e-therapy through texting and right before that interview I had done some research on using smart phone apps as complement to therapy, where I came across a few articles about telemental health but I had not given this topic too much thought until that interview.

I turned to research and discovered that telehealth, health services provided by a form of technology, has been around for at least 40 years, some say even longer. I learned that telemental health is not just text therapy as we have seen in some ads. It was not this “new shiny thing” I thought was emerging but there has been substantial research on the use of telehealth and telemental health effectiveness with some communities, particularly in rural areas.  I also discovered the answers for many of my initial questions—there are HIPPA secure platforms to provide telemental health services and the evidence shows that it is possible to build a therapeutic alliance through video.

After a year of providing telemental health services through a pilot program supported by CareFirst and led by La Clínica del Pueblo, a federally qualified community based health clinic that has been impacting the Latino and immigrant community in the Washington, DC metro area since 1983, I can say I’m truly glad that I looked deeper than my initial fears.

Our experience providing telemental health to some clients validates other research which shows client’s functioning improve to a comparable rate as in “traditional in person therapy.” We are able to reach many clients in distress who otherwise would not be served due to a current shortage of bilingual mental health providers, which results in long waiting for access.  I have also dealt with several crisis, which initially I thought would be impossible to do via video.

Currently, the Latino community experiences high rates of mental health disorders and face significant barriers in obtaining services due to stigma, lack of bilingual and multicultural mental health providers, lack of health insurance, among other obstacles. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the lack of access to mental health services is one of the most serious health problems in the Hispanic community.

As the Latino and immigrant community grow, agencies working with this population face challenges and opportunities to meet the demand of mental health services the community needs to thrive.

At La Clínica, we saw an opportunity to better serve our population and through a partner to partner model, we are expanding our services to clients who face a significant barrier in accessing services. Barriers exist because they either can’t get to us due to transportation challenges, which for many of our clients means taking several modes of public transportation and traveling from far distances or because finding a bilingual mental health provider has been difficult due to the shortage of them. Clients conveniently continue to attend their base organization for services and in a private therapy ready room receive services while I provide therapy from a counseling room at La Clínica’s DC based office.

The need to expand services and come up with alternative solutions to meet the demand is true for many of the communities social workers serve. As the primary providers of mental health services, social workers have a unique opportunity to leverage technology to respond to our community needs. To guide social workers in this endeavor, NASW and ASWB have already created standards for technology and social work practice. In addition, ASWB recently approved the Telemental Health Institute telemental health online training program. “And Star Telehealth and the Center for Credentialing Education will launch their training program in the near future.  I am currently a beta tester for the initial modules.

Our times are changing. Our client’s needs are changing. Our NASW calls us to become culturally competent, and becoming culturally competent with the use of technology is essential in today’s times.  Our communities are more connected than ever before and are turning to technology at records numbers.

Join the dialogue. My colleagues from La Clínica del Pueblo and I will present our findings and insights from our pilot program through our presentation TeleMental Health for Latinos: Expanding Access through Technology at two social work conferences: Sí Se Puede®: Social Workers United for Latino Advancement conference organized by the Latino Social Workers Organization and the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at the New York University of Silver School of Social Work in New York, April 25-27 and later in Washington, DC at the National Association of Social Workers national conference in June 22-25.

We will address:

  • Demystifying Telehealth: Fears, Barriers, Limitations and How We Overcame Them Planning, Building Protocols, and Training
  • Program Preparation and Implementation: The Importance of Research,
  • Technical, Clinical, and Administrative Implications
  • Cultural Considerations for Implementation with the Latino Community
  • Ethical Considerations for Social Workers Using TeleHealth
  • Program Evaluation and Outcomes
  • The Future of TeleMental Health

Having recently attended the Mid Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center Annual Summit, where I was one of very few social workers providing direct services, I am reenergized to empower more of us to learn about telemental health, get trained, certified and practice, when appropriate and while considering cultural, ethical and clinical implications. And I hope that next year, there will be a lot more social workers at the telehealth table.

New Technology Provides Support for Sexual Assault Victims

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Recent surveys have revealed that 85% of sexual assault victims do not report their assault promptly to appropriate authorities. When they later do report, their credibility is often questioned.  The authorities ask “Why now? Has your story changed?”

The I’ve-Been-Violated™ App is the first app of its kind to allow a victim of sexual assault to confidentially record contemporaneous evidence (with video and audio) of an incident. The evidence is double-encrypted and stored offline. The app also, utilizing geo-coding technology, stores information about where the user was when he or she recorded the video. As a legal safeguard, the video record that the user creates is only available through appropriate authorities (i.e. legal, health, school) or by court order and is never directly available to the user.

Should an unfortunate event occur, the I’ve-Been-Violated App is there to help. The I’ve-Been-Violated™ App eliminates most of these credibility questions and allows victims the peace of mind to know that reporting to authorities is fully within their control.

Instructions for a victim to run the I’ve-Been-Violated™ App:

  1. Get to a Safe Place: As soon as possible, get to a safe location before starting the app.
  2. Activate and Run the App: Turn on the app and begin to tell your story by following the on-screen instructions. The app will prompt you on what to say while recording video and
  3. Recording Encrypted & Stored: An encrypted record of your story is created and stored for future retrieval through the proper channels (not available directly to the user).
  4. Authorities Access Evidence: When you are ready to do so, contact the appropriate authorities and they can access the video recording. The fact that it was recorded contemporaneously with the violation helps a victim’s credibility be

The I’ve-Been-Violated™ App is part of a suite of apps provided by the Affirmative Consent Division of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence (ISCE.edu) to help change the context and conversations around sexual consent on college campuses. (See for more information). The suite is available for individual download and on a group basis for schools or school based organizations. The app suite is designed to assist schools to improve their Title IX compliance efforts.

Because it is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to help the victims of sexual assaults, ISCE.edu is making the I’ve-Been-Violated™ App available for free, and it is available for download on iTunes.

ISCE.edu is presently running no-cost pilot programs at selected institutions across the United States to demonstrate and potentially improve the efficacy of the entire app suite. These pilots include educational outreach and student uptake efforts designed help schools improve their Title IX compliance programs. ISCE.edu has a few slots remaining for schools who wish to run a similar no cost pilot program.

Self-Care in the Digital Age and Why You May Need to Define Your Limits

Most of our devices work 24 hrs a day and 7 days a week. Email apps sends us notifications round the clock to let us know that someone is trying to reach us. We have come a long way from the days when we were reliant on the natural cycles of light and dark to determine when to rise and when to sleep — digital devices are just the latest development in a process where we began to shape our environment and our routines with technology.

But, devices that are 24/7 can suck us into to trying to do the same. In order to not respond to the newest notification on my phone I need to actively make a choice: do I ignore it? turn off notifications? set them up with a schedule to leave me alone at certain time? or just look at my phone to see who it is?

Many times when I’m tired I find myself just mindlessly turning to my technology.  I’ve been working on paying attention at those times, stopping, and asking myself what do I really need right now?  Usually, when I check in with myself, I realize that turning to my technology at that moment just feels emotionally draining.

The Challenge Inherent in Our Technology

William Powers, author of Hamlet’s Blackberry, notes that every new technology both solves problems for society and also creates new challenges.  I think our smartphones/iPads/tablets are now providing us with the challenge to take more active control over shaping our lives and our connectivity. Yes, I can check my email (or Twitter, or Facebook or whatever) every few minutes throughout the day. But what are the consequences of doing that? And yes, now instead of waiting in a long line at the grocery store, I can get something done on my phone. But just because I can, doesn’t mean I have to.

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I have to. Just because I can, doesn’t mean I have to. Just because I can, doesn’t mean I have to.

Those words are becoming a mantra in my life. Instead of mindlessly doing something on a device, I can ask myself: What do I need right now? And when I say this, I need to actively check in with all of me: my body, my soul, my mind. And in order to remember to check in with myself, I need to notice what I’m doing and then be able to turn my attention inward and notice my physical sensations, my energy level, and my feelings and then use this information to ask what’s needed. And this is why our culture is now, all of sudden, so interested in mindfulness, the practice of noticing in the present moment. Without mindfulness, you are not free to make a new choice in the moment, you become simply a creature of habit and conditioning (e.g., my phone tweets at me and I look to see who’s talking to me on Twitter).

But does mindfulness=self-care? While mindfulness meditation might be part of someone’s self-care strategies, I think mindfulness itself serves a more foundational role in self-care.  Mindfulness is necessary for self-care: if I’m going to take care of myself, I need to be aware of myself and make choices about what I need. But the self-care part consists of taking action, not just noticing, unless just noticing and being (being mindful) is what I need now.

What is Self-Care in the Digital Age?

So what have I learned about taking care of myself in the digital age? Here are a few of the things I’ve learned so far:

  • I need to set boundaries for myself around technologies — times to be off email and other work-related contacts — time to eat and enjoy food and the people I’m eating with, especially toward the end of a day.
  • I need to keep my body moving, taking frequent breaks from sitting still working on a device.
  • I need experiences that are doing and being and interacting with the world (and the people) around me, especially being outside. This means putting the technology done at these times.
  • I need to disconnect–even from fun things like games and Second Life–at least an hour before bedtime. I don’t sleep as restfully when I don’t, and the research on the impact of backlit screens on sleep confirms this. And, I turn off notifications on my phone then, too.
  • And, I need to leave some “open” mind time for mind-wandering. Sometimes I just need to stand in line, or sit in the doctor’s waiting room and just let my brain wander, because my mind just feels too full. Sometimes I need to drive in silence, not listening to a recorded book, or to have my phone reading articles to me. And research suggests the need to allow for some mind-wandering, since it seems to enhance creativity.
  • And, sometimes I need to listen to that recorded book or that article while I’m driving, or work on email in that doctor’s waiting room.

Yes, I do realize that my last two points suggest opposite actions. That’s because it’s not about formulas for living. It’s about stopping for a few seconds, asking what’s needed, and making choices. And it’s about observing how things affect me, so I can make choices and find the right mix to come up with some general principles to guide my life or create my own personal “Owner’s Manual” of sorts. You will probably never find me doing email at 5:30 a.m. But, I have a colleague who does that regularly and identifies it as something that works well for her. We have to allow room for differences among us, while working together to share what works and dialogue with each other about the process.

So what have you learned about self-care in the digital age? What guidelines have you come up with for yourself, and why?

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