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Family Advocates

Who Are Family Advocates?

The FERC Family Advocates are a diverse team of family members who have experience caring for a loved one with mental health issues. We’ve had our own personal journeys lifting the heavy burden that is navigating systems of care for our families, and we have emerged triumphantly to be of service to others. To FERC, family can be both biological and chosen and include: parents, children, siblings, relatives, spouses, colleagues, roommates, friends, partners, and more.

What Do Family Advocates Do?

Family Advocates engage three different methods to help our families. We educate our family clients about mental health and treatment, we advocate on behalf of our families to ensure they are part of the dialogue concerning their loved one, and we support our families and encourage their self-care through support groups, phone calls, and in-person meetings. The Family Advocates support their clients whose loved one may be experiencing the heartbreaking revolving door of hospitals, the criminal justice system, and homelessness. From working with more seasoned families on advocating for their child’s rights at school to supporting our newer families during their loved one’s first experience with involuntary hospitalization or not understanding a mental health diagnosis, our Family Advocates are prepared to work with each family on their own needs basis.

Our offices have a lending library with a variety of books, pamphlets, DVDs and other resources available for families to check out for home use. We are continuously growing the number and type of educational resources in other languages such as Spanish, Chinese, Farsi, and Vietnamese. In addition to our lending library, we offer the free use of computers with internet access, printers, and a local phone line to assist family advocacy and research efforts.

Family Advocates Services

  • Provide a full range of information, support, encouragement, advocacy, and referral to appropriate community resources, and related services in order to assist the family caregiver in coping effectively with immediate and/or long- term situations.
  • Give families detailed information about the mental health service system; how it works and services available for their loved one.
  • Educate families on privacy and confidentiality regulations, HIPAA, AB1424, AB1194, patient and family rights, and the release of information (ROI) process
  • Collaborate with community partners and build teams around families to provide wraparound support
  • Help families find the agency or service needed for their specific situation
  • Offer options, encouragement, and assistance in navigating the complex behavioral health care system in Alameda County
  • Promote ongoing self-care techniques and wellness and recovery activities for families and their loved ones
  • Facilitate and co-facilitate monthly family caregiver support groups throughout Alameda County
  • Support family caregivers by phone or by in-person consultation
  • Actively participate in liaison role with key partners
  • Coordinate trainings and conduct community outreach

Family caregivers are who we are at FERC and we’re ready to take our own experiences to help another family in need, "We’ve been there, we can help."

"The family advocates at FERC were a rock of support at times when we felt abandoned or ill-served by ineffectual mental health providers." – FERC Family member

"The family advocates at FERC are people with deep sensitivity, expertise, and compassion." FERC Family Member