Sonoma County MST & NAMI!

By Lauren Peterson, NAMI Sonoma County

I am Lauren Petersen from NAMI Sonoma County. In our coun ty, NAMI is fortunate to partner with a group of dedicated professionals to deliver a very remarkable crisis resource that works.  It is called our Mobile Support Team, or MST.

After many requests and strong public support, the County of Sonoma’s Behavioral Health Division partnered with police departments and sheriff’s organization to form the Mobile Support Team. And NAMI is part of it! This team, made up of licensed mental health clinicians and certified substance abuse specialists, provides field-based support to law enforcement. This means that when law enforcement encounters a mental health crisis, or even a situation that might have evolved from mental health challenges, they can call MST to the scene for help in making the right assessments and coming to the best outcome for everyone involved.

There’s something else about MST that distinguishes it from all other similar programs… peer and family support! In my work as a NAMI staff member, part of my job is as the Family Support role with the Mobile Support Team. After MST meets a family out in the field, I will follow up with them and provide a direct link to NAMI’s family programs as well as any other resource they might need as they takes steps away from this crisis.

That family can know that I understand what they are going through, as I am a family member of someone with mental health issues and an individual with a couple mental health diagnoses myself. I continue MST’s goals of promoting safety and emotional stability, minimizing negative outcomes, helping community members obtain sufficient support and treatment, and prevent overly intrusive intervention.

But I can also help fill in the gaps. At NAMI, we all know that family members are often the first to recognize the signs of a disorder and the first to offer support, but also the first to feel “in the dark”.  By referring folks over, MST gives families the benefit of finding out right away that they are not alone, they can find support, and they can find answers. It’s my honor to continue working with this fantastic team and providing that direct link for families. And recently, I was so proud to present a NAMI presentation beside an individual whose family I met through MST, while she talked about her lived experience with mental health!

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