Slide Deck: Family Peer Support: Being Part of the Mental Health Team

In this presentation, Mid-America MHTTC specialists and partners with Omaha-based Community Alliance will demonstrate ways in which family peer support empowers families in their roles on the mental health team. In particular, participants will learn how recipients of family peer support:

  • Learn self-regulation;
  • Learn to partner with the mental health team to develop a crisis plan; and
  • Learn to partner with the mental health team to develop a recovery plan.




Jai SookramDr. 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 BaerentzenBill 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.

Rita and Stuart have been married for 30 years and were blessed with twins. Stuart has worked in the advertising field for over 30 years. Rita was a stay-at-home parent for most of her life. Rita and Stuart noticed behavioral changes in their daughter in her early 20s. Although she was seen by professionals in the mental health community, she severed ties from the professionals and her family. Stuart and Rita attended Dr. Jai’s family-to-family class to develop an understanding of their family’s challenges, and have since gained insights into their lives.


Learn more about Family Peer Support: An Emerging Workforce at

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