I am still an IT guy, even though I’ve worked at Spurwink for 18 years. I’ve basically had 3 IT careers. Or as I call them, my 3 lives. Each one had its own challenges and opportunities – the building products industry, a Japanese electronics manufacturer, and now mental health. Transitioning from these previous venues has allowed me to bring my technical skills to benefit people in a very human way.
I’m asked what IT has to do with mental health. The IT department doesn’t directly help clients. We help staff help clients. We are the nuts and bolts, or the skeleton inside of the Spurwink body that delivers human connection and relationship in the work of emotional healing.
The idea of finding ways to help the helpers help more motivates me. The more that I can make information collection, documentation, and communication easier and more efficient, the better I’ve done my job. If data can be accessed simply, then clinicians and educators can spend more time, face-to-face, with children, teenagers, adults, and families. People who come to work at Spurwink usually don’t want to spend a lot of time at a computer. I try to help them achieve that.
It’s always nice to be in the middle, trying to help people. It is rewarding to assist people who are having technical challenges — trying to explain what is occurring with our network or software. Or, conversely, helping staff articulate what their technical obstacles are.
At Spurwink, we bring the two worlds together – technology and the clinical arts. A sculpture can be measured and described in terms of its angles and trajectories. Meteorologists describe the force of Mother Nature in barometric pressures and wind chill temperatures. And IT at Spurwink helps the helpers capture and organize the power of emotional healing and educational progress in keystrokes and data files.
IT work includes voice, data, and video services. We’ve experienced everything, it seems, from staff who forget their passwords, to crises on weekends, to the logistics of arranging a forensic courtroom video. Just like many of our clinical services, we are available 24/7, only a phone call away. The current world is connected technologically and we are keeping up.
So what does IT have to do with mental health? Spurwink won’t get funding unless it can show that it has provided a service, quantitatively. My job is to make that as easy and efficient as possible. So IT is a department of listeners, detectives, strategizes, problem solvers, and supporters. Actually not too unlike the clinicians and direct care professionals themselves!
So be friends with your IT department folks. We are the often invisible infrastructure that keeps the phones on, the computers running virus-free, and allows the staff time to practice their art.
By Bill Cuddy
Director of Information Technology (IT) Services