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Family peer support concepts introduced via Aug. 20 webinar

Publication Date: Sep 02, 2020

Editors' Note: This story ran in our September newsletter, published Sept. 2.


The Mid-America MHTTC serious mental illness program on Aug. 20 co-presented the Family Peer Support: An Emerging Workforce webinar with the Omaha-based Community Alliance's family and peer services department.


The webinar introduced family peer support as a profession, explored its roles and functions, and highlighted specific training needs. Dr. Lilchandra Jai Sookram, manager of family and peer services at Community Alliance, and advocates Cecilia Losee and Rich Kalal shared what led them to get involved in family peer support.


Losee, a financial planner who specializes in working with special needs families, described caring for her adult daughter with serious mental illness and how it affected personal aspects of her life, including her marriage. This led her to family peer support, where she was able to connect with others in similar predicaments.


Losee said the network opened up crucial resources she did not know of, such as whom to call in the midst of a crisis. Now, her daughter has a strong team of mental health professionals and other doctors caring for her.


"That couldn't have happened without peer support," she said.


Kalal, a Community Alliance volunteer, said that after his daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2012, the stress of caring for her led him to struggle with controlling his emotions. A friend directed him to Dr. Sookram at Community Alliance, and eight years later, he is still deeply involved with the family peer support group.


Kalal said he has spoken with hundreds of people since he joined, and the empathy and bonds that form are lasting. Now, he advocates for families undergoing similar situations.

The Family Peer Support: An Emerging Workforce webinar will be expanded into a monthly series beginning in October. To save your spot, mark your calendars for the following dates. Registration links and other information will be posted on the web page.


Family Peer Support: Outcomes

Thursday, Oct. 22, 12-1 p.m.


Family Peer Support: Self-care

Thursday, Nov. 19, 12-1 p.m.


Family Peer Support: Being Part of the Mental Health Team

Thursday, Dec. 17, 12-1 p.m.


Family Peer Support: Preventing Crisis and Relapse

Thursday, Jan. 21, 12-1 p.m.


To watch the Aug. 20 webinar, play the embedded video below or click here.