Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Web Secret 450: Man Therapy

I am frequently asked what is typical utilization for an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

And I answer "it depends."

The reason is demographics. If you have mostly female employees, you are always going to have much higher utilization than if you have mostly male employees.

Men have greater difficulty seeking help than women. It's a stereotype, but unfortunately true.

In 2006, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment decided to tackle the challenge of male suicide prevention. Cactus, a Denver based ad agency, offered to do some pro bono work and come up with a campaign that would reach working aged men who were potentially high risk for suicide and unlikely to seek help on their own.

Their brilliant idea? Man Therapy, an interactive mental health campaign targeting working age men (25-54) that employs humor to cut through stigma and tackle issues like depression, divorce and anxiety. The campaign features the fictional Dr. Rich Mahogany, described by Adam Newman in the New York Times as “an affable, mustachioed, middle-aged man whose personality might be described as Dr. Phil meets Ron Burgundy...” The underlying message is that all men should be aware of their mental health, treat it like they would a broken leg and strive to get better.

The centerpiece of the campaign is the ManTherapy.org website, where men and their loved ones will find they have a virtual appointment with Dr. Mahogany. He greets visitors, makes them feel at ease and then provides an overview of what they can explore during their visit.

From there, visitors can navigate through Dr. Mahogany’s office where they can find useful information about men’s mental health including the Guy’s Guide to Gentlemental Health. Men can also choose to take an 18-question quiz to evaluate their own mental health, access resources and explore a wide range of actions, including accessing do-it-yourself tips, seeking therapy referral sources, linking to local support groups or a crisis line.

Here is a sample Man Therapy video:


I encourage you to explore every link on this innovative, entertaining website. The approach has been successfully exported to other countries and won countless awards.

Bravo.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Web secret 449: TZK seminars

This past year, the New York State division of professional licensing announced that there would now be a continuing ed requirement for me to renew my license as a clinical social worker.

I immediately went on line to find out where and how I could acquire the requisite CEUs.

Most of the approved providers were outrageously expensive and inconvenient.

Hello TZK seminars.

Now I was a little cautious because quite frankly the name "TZK seminars" accompanied by a very 90s looking, no frills website seemed sketchy.

TZK seminars sounded like the subject of an infomercial on some open access channel at 3 am.

In this case, do not judge the website by its landing page.

TZK is a super convenient, incredibly affordable, excellent resource to get CEUs via live and recorded (home study) webinars.

So far I have watched:

The Treatment of Hoarding Home Study

Understanding and Treating The Cybersexually Addicted

New Developments in Ethics and the Law

Being an Expert in Child Custody Cases.

All have been excellently taught and interesting.

I can get my CEUs without ever leaving my apartment.

I also like that TZK allows you to sign up for a live webinar at the very last minute - even 15 minutes before the program starts. I never know when I am going to have a block of time to get continuing ed and I love being able to squeeze in some learning whenever it suits me. TZK sends me a url where I can access the program, and I have the choice of calling in or using my computer to listen to the audio.

Easy.

Other than watching the webinars, TZK requires a validation test after each program before emailing the certificate of attendance.

Well done, TZK!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Web Secret 448: Fake apps

It stands to reason that if we have fake news, we can have fake apps.

And unfortunately, you can't assume that an app is safe to use just because it's listed in the Apple store or Google Play store. Fake apps pop up faster than our mobile services can get rid of them, so it is on users to perform due diligence.

Most of us rely on apps to help make our lives more convenient and more fun. (In fact, 85% of the time we spend on smartphones is on apps.)

I, for example, am hopelessly addicted to Fairway Solitaire, (download at your own peril.) However, app scams are on the rise. From Uber to banking apps to shopping apps, hackers are tricking smartphone users with fake apps.

Just last week users were tricked by a ‘Coach’ app which promised 20 percent off bags,” says Karl Volkman, CTO of SRV, Inc. and tech trends expert. (Full disclosure, Karl sent me a press release with the info quoted in this blog post.)  “However, Coach actually doesn’t have an app at all.”

So how can you tell the difference between a fake app and a real app? Volkman says to look for the following things:

Be a grammar nazi. Check for incorrect spelling, poor grammar, or other signs that the app was not created by a professional organization.

Read the reviews. It’s important not to just zero in on a five-star score, especially as reviews can be easily faked. Instead, read the reviews and look for signs it may not be authentic. Again, check for excessively poor grammar/spelling, as well as over-the-top gushing about the app. If you are seeing nothing but rave reviews for a unheard of app, chances are that there something is amiss.

Talk to your tech buddies or people at the Genius bar. “Say, ‘Hey, have you ever heard of this app?’” suggests Volkman. “Ask around. For example, if the people in the Coach scam mentioned above had asked around about the Coach app, they might have learned that Coach does not even have a app.”

Look for the logos. Hackers will often mimic logos (such as that of Netflix, Coach, or Uber) and the results will look quite good…until you look a little deeper. Perhaps it is fuzzy, off-center, or otherwise poorly reproduced.

Check the developer’s profile. Who created the app? Look them up online if possible. A reputable developer should have a Google trail.

Then download Fairway Solitaire.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Web Secret 447: Sony Glass Sound Speaker

Warning: this is one of those posts where I go apeshit over an advance in technology.

If you are not in the mood, skip until next week.

This is a complete list of the clothing and furnishings in my freshman dorm room at Yale University in the 70s:

1 twin bed
1 Max Escher poster stuck on wall with gummy adhesive
7 pairs of corduroy pants in assorted colors
7 polyester shirts with floral motifs
1 Brother electric typewriter weighing half a ton
6 cartons of records (that's vinyl to the younger folks) weighing half a ton
1 stereo system consisting of turntable, receiver, tuner, amplifier and 2 gigantic speakers weighing half a ton.

And that, my friends, was it.

We weren't materialistic in those days.

But we did spend large sums on HiFi equipment and records. Bulky, heavy equipment and records that we repeatedly lugged from room to room, and apartment to apartment, for several decades until....

....scientific advances shrunk it all into my iPhone.

Back then, having great speakers was the most important component of our systems.

And that's still true today.

Except now my speakers look like the light bulb of the future.

This is how I discovered the Sony Glass Sound Speaker:

I was wandering around an Italian furniture showroom in New York City, lingering because the music was fantastic. I couldn't figure out where the sound was coming from until a salesperson pointed to a slender, glowing, 20 inch cylinder. It looked like an "objet d'art."

I was stunned.

LSPX-S1, as my friends at Sony affectionately named it, is a wireless 360 degree sound system that pairs with a Bluetooth device to... to... to...

...well, to just blow you away.

As I write this, the Glass Sound Speakers can only be purchased from the MOMA, (Museum of Modern Art,) gift shop in Manhattan.

And now one of them sits in my living room.

Freaking me out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Web Secret 446: skytherapist.com

SkyTherapist.com is a platform that enables clients to interact with a therapist through a highly secure video counseling interface.

Here is how they explain themselves to prospective users:


Of course clinicians can also apply to become providers. Skytherapist aims to source clinicians not only in the USA, but in the entire world.

Which brings me to my next point. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the next big thing in the EAP field is video counseling. Canada, our neighbors to the north, figured this out a number of years ago, and because they don't have to deal with our obsolete, state bound, licensing system - ran with it.

I see many EAPs avoiding the whole thing, as if averting one's gaze from the inevitable is a solution. They are intimidated by tech or paralyzed by the fact that you can't practice psychotherapy across state lines.

So in the interest of progress, let me make a couple of introductions.

Skytherapy, meet the EAP field, EAPs, meet Skytherapy.

EAPs - Skytherapist offers you an encrypted platform for video counseling. Skytherapist, EAPs offer you an opportunity to greatly expand your business.

Go forth and multiply.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Web Secret 445: Boss Whispering Institute

Part of my day job is to oversee the publication of the EAP Newsbrief, a weekly electronic newsletter published by the international Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

The Newsbrief focuses on topics of interest to individuals working in areas related to corporate and employee mental health.

Nary a week goes by without an article about workplace bullying - a scourge impacting workplaces around the world.

In most cases, the bully is a manager, and the bullying impacts the company's bottom line because of worker turnover or problems with absenteeism and presenteeism as subordinates do anything to avoid the bully. Abrasive bosses represent a huge challenge for companies and executive coaches. In many cases, the end result is the termination of that abrasive manager.

Is there a better way?

There's an app for that.

Just kidding, there is the "Boss Whispering Institute," the brain child of Dr. Laura Crawshaw, a psychotherapist, executive coach, researcher, and author, who focuses her research and practice on the reduction of workplace suffering caused by abrasive leaders.

The Boss Whispering Institute offers a multiplicity of resources for companies and professionals:

1. You can hire Dr. Crawshaw.
2. or any of the other professionals who have completed her program and become accredited Boss Whisperers.
3. You can read her books and articles.
4. You can hire her to speak.

Expertise.

It's a good thing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Web Secret 444: joyable.com

This was supposed to be a simple blog post.

Telling you about joyable.com, an online evidenced base social anxiety reduction program based on cognitive behavioral therapy CBT. You can try it for free for 7 days and then it costs $25/week. Participants are provided with a coach and online exercises.

I thought it could be used as an adjunct to therapy or EAP services.

Or as a stand alone product.

But now I can't do that.

Instead, I am upset and concerned.

I became upset and concerned when I decided to look up the credentials of the joyable "clinical" staff. Here are a few examples:

MBA
BA in Public Policy Studies and Economics
BA in English and Communications
MS in Integrated Marketing Communications
BA in Anthropology
BA in Race and Ethnicity Studies
BA in East Asian Studies and certificates in Linguistics and Translation

etc., etc.

Staff bios consist of cutesy descriptions like "Outside of work, she loves re-watching Christopher Nolan films, eating Swedish meatballs at Ikea, and planning her next overseas trip."

You get the picture - 99% of joyable's "coaching" staff have no graduate clinical degrees or licenses. Only their 3 "Scientific advisors" have serious clinical cred.

And that wouldn't bother me, if they described themselves as a coaching program.

Instead they describe themselves as providing "evidence-based, affordable mental health services."

So I will not be recommending joyable.com to anybody.

But I have written before about dubious online mental health programs. Remember Talkspace? They promised that for $25 a week, a client can text an assigned therapist whenever they want. Unlimited. And If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

But this is what REALLY worries me.

These companies are obviously and entirely marketed to Millenials.

Who are demanding easy access, quick fixes and affordable solutions to their mental health woes.

And the real mental health professionals, clinics, and EAPs are not responding.

I love my fellow mental health professionals but many are Luddites and technopeasants.

In fairness to them, they are subject to anitquated licensing laws that prevent the delivery of counseling services across state lines unless the clinician is licensed in both areas.

Horror vacui.

Nature abhors a vacuum.

And into this gaping, giant vacuum, these very para/para/professional services are proliferating and will continue to proliferate.

You have been warned.