Families of persons with serious mental illness play an important role in the lives of their loved ones. In addition to being caring siblings, parents or spouses, they often function as caregivers and can be an asset to any mental health team to assure optimal benefit of treatment. A new workforce is emerging to support these families. Family Peer Support workers are persons with a lived experience trained to provide support to other family members who are caring for a person with a serious mental illness.
This webinar from Aug. 20, 2020, introduces family peer support as a profession, explore its roles and functions, and highlight specific training needs.
Dr. Lilchandra Jai Sookram has been in the mental health field for over 40 years. At the Nebraska State Hospital, he provided psychological services to persons with serious mental illness and to their family members, and he directed clinical services including psychology, nursing, social work, therapeutic recreation, education and return-to-work programs. He is the former director of mental health services in Kansas and clinical director of a juvenile correctional facility. Currently he is manager of family and peer services at Community Alliance.
Bill Baerentzen, Ph.D., CRC, LMHP, is serious mental illness program director for the Mid-America MHTTC. Much of his outreach involves promoting evidence-based practices to help people with serious mental illness (SMI) live meaningful inclusive lives. Dr. Baerentzen has worked as director of a 250-bed emergency overnight shelter; supervisor of therapists in a treatment program for persons with co-occurring disorders; and as faculty in a rehabilitation counseling program.
Cecilia Losee is a financial planner who specializes in working with special needs families. Her own disability and that of her adult daughter give her a unique perspective into what it takes to plan for the future. With over 10 years in the industry she uses many different tools, such as special needs trusts, to ensure the protection of government benefits while maximizing the amount left to take care of your loved ones.
Rich Kalal is a parent of a loved one with serious mental illness. A retiree of IBM, Kalal works as a volunteer at Community Alliance, in particular on family education programs along with Dr. Jai Sookram. On many occasions, Kalal has spoken to University of Nebraska Medical Center residents of psychiatry and family medicine and medical students about being a family member of a person with a serious mental illness.
Learn more here.