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June 2019 Newsletter

 Who Protects Mental Health Patient Rights
in Sonoma County?
Join us Wednesday, June 12th at 6:30-8:00 pm to Find Out!

Where? Church of the Roses, 2600 Patio Court, Santa Rosa CA 95405
Questions? Call our Warmline at 866-960-6264

Every county in California is required to appoint Patient Rights Advocates to protect the Constitutional and statutory rights of individuals receiving mental health services. These advocates are responsible for: representing patients in inpatient psychiatric facilities, preparing patients for hearings to determine if a treatment facility has sufficient cause to hold them involuntarily; responding to grievances and complaints (from patients, family, friends and even staff) about mental health services; investigating complaints about licensed board and cares and unlicensed residential facilities; responding to inmate mental health concerns and providing training and mandated system audits.

On June 12th, Frank and Bill SmithWaters of the SmithWaters Group, which provides Patient Rights Advocacy services in Sonoma County will share information about their services and responsibilities -- and their own stories of lived experience with mental health challenges. Everyone is welcome. For more information, please call our Warmline at 866-960-6264.
New Family-to-Family Facilitators Trained!
Last month, NAMI Sonoma County hosted a training for five new Family-to-Family teachers, enabling us to significantly increase our offerings of this flagship NAMI educational program. As we plan a class schedule for the year ahead, we hope to offer these free classes (beginning Fall 2019) in a wider variety of settings and to reach more members of our community.
If you have a loved who lives with serious mental health challenges (such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and others), we encourage you to ask us about this free 12-session, research-based educational program that teaches skills essential to supporting your loved one, while taking care of yourself. Call our Warmline (866-960-6264) to learn more about Family-to-Family and request an application form so that we can include you in our planning for an upcoming class.
 Sonoma State University Students: 
We Couldn't Do What We Do Without Them!

We would like to thank Sonoma State University students Kiara Moore, Moragh Graf, Marissa Enriquez and Evelyn Ortega, who helped staff our Warmline and represent NAMI at health fairs and other community events this past academic year. Congratulations go to Kiara and Evelyn who graduated and are moving on to their next endeavors in southern California and Japan!

As they move on, we will be looking for new Warmline Specialists! If you are a good listener, level-headed, computer-literate and would like to make a positive impact for those looking for mental health-related information, referrals and support, consider becoming a Warmline Specialist at NAMI Sonoma County! T
raining is provided and includes spending one-on-one time with an experienced specialist before getting started. Spanish language skills are highly sought after but not required.

If you are interested in becoming a Warmline volunteer, please call 866-960-6264 for more information.
Emergency Go Bags:
Encouraging Planning Ahead!

In collaboration with Anita Catlin, RN, PHD, and NAMI Board Member, Christina Sanford, RN, MSN (both of Kaiser Permanente Northern California), NAMI Sonoma County has acquired 100 stocked “go bags,”  to be distributed to individuals in our community who live with serious mental health challenges.

This project was initiated by Dr. Catlin with a grant from the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing, and supplemented by contributions from Kaiser Permanente and the Halter Project. With NAMI Sonoma County, the project's goal was to help illuminate the needs of community residents whose needs were not clearly addressed during the wildfires of 2017, such as residents of community board and care homes serving individuals with mental health challenges. The bags provide a ready-to-go resource for individuals who may not have someone to look out for them in the event of a future wildfire or earthquake disaster, requiring quick evacuation.

Each bag includes a first aid kit, hand-crank radio, a kit filled with essential supplies and an emergency information pamphlet designed to capture a resident's key personal details such as emergency contacts, medications, insurance plan information and more.
If you have a loved one living in the community who would benefit from having a "go bag," or suggestions about their distribution, please contact Mary-Frances Walsh at or 707-527-6662.
2019-2020 County Budget Shortfall
Affects Mental Health Services Once Again

As Sonoma County grapples with the consequences of another budget gap for the coming fiscal year of 2019-2020, tough decisions about a number of public services are being reviewed by the Board of Supervisors. This includes an $8M shortfall in Behavioral Health services, reflecting an already bare-bones' budget.

Proposed cuts would affect peer education and training programs; crisis assessment and suicide prevention training in public schools; and a reduction in bed capacity at the county's Crisis Stabilization Unit. No one wants to see these cuts made and Supervisors are doing what they can to find alternate sources of funding. Budget hearings take place June 11-12, 2019, with public comments scheduled for 3PM on June 11th. Learn more at  
We encourage you to make your voice heard by advocating for these services to your district Supervisor. Contact Mary-Frances Walsh at to learn more.
A Message About Gun Violence
Written by Nick Fierro, NAMI Project Specialist

On May 31, 2019 there was an incident involving a possible threat of gun violence at Santa Rosa High School. While thankfully the incident ended without violence, the lockdown and police activity that occurred in the area may have brought feelings of fear, anxiety, and helplessness to students, parents, and teachers alike.

These feelings may have been exacerbated due to the Virginia Beach shooting that resulted in twelve deaths on the same day. While the toll on that community, and our sympathies for them cannot go unmentioned, the juxtaposition of the two events highlights yet again a need to talk about the negative feelings that come with threats of gun violence, whether or not violence ultimately occurs.

Those present for Friday's lockdown, as well as their loved ones, may have breathed sighs of relief that the episode came to an end peacefully. However, the emotional exhaustion and residual feelings of dread that come with hours of uncertainty and stress are not things to be dismissed. This is true no matter your place in the community, whether you were present for the lockdown; are a loved one of someone who was; or, like me, are a member of the community (and SRHS alum) who was watching and hoping for it to be resolved peacefully.

Walking away from a stressful event unharmed does not mean the stress did not happen. Do not be afraid to talk about what you felt, or may still be feeling, particularly if it is interfering with your daily life.

If you are struggling with any residual stress, anxiety, or fear from either of the two events on May 31, please consider calling our free, non-crisis Warmline at (866) 960 - 6264.
Copyright © 2019 NAMI Sonoma County, All rights reserved.

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