SPOTLIGHT ON COMPEER
“Relationships are key to resiliency.”
This week, we’d like to spotlight our Compeer program and all that it does for the community it serves.
What is Compeer?
Compeer is a combination of the words ‘companion’ and ‘peer’ and it aptly describes the purpose of the program. A peer becomes a companion to an individual with a mental health diagnosis, intentionally building a relationship with them.
Compeer envisions a day when all communities embrace individuals and their families living with mental health challenges; when prevention begins early with children and their families; when living, learning, working and volunteering in the community is given expression through the social inclusion of all individuals and supported by the power of friendship and hope.
What’s the value of Compeer to our communities?
Stigma prevents many people from seeking the help they need. We are discovering that the negativity and misunderstanding that often surrounds mental illness can create fear and cause shame, which in turn causes unnecessary pain and confusion.
Nearly two-thirds of all people with mental health challenges do not seek treatment. Imagine if only one of every three of your friends sought help for a broken arm.
Because they don’t seek help, individuals with mental health concerns often become isolated. The Compeer friendship helps to integrate them into the community and to develop social confidence.
There are many studies that indicate that friendships help improve mental health. In 2008, Community Mental Health Journal (page 28) published the results of a study of the Compeer program. The participants who had Compeer services (in conjunction with other professional care) reported feeling better about themselves and they felt fewer symptoms of their mental illness.
In other words, friendship is good medicine.
How can I get involved?
We would love to have you as a volunteer! Compeer volunteer opportunities are fun and flexible for any schedule. We have several different types of opportunities available.
- Compeer Friend – A Compeer Friend volunteer is matched 1:1 with a person in mental health recovery. Compeer Friend Volunteers spend at least 4 hours each month with their Compeer Friend match. The pair goes out and does activities together as they mutually decide. Each person pays their own way. In between outings, the Compeer matches will often communicate with each other.
- Compeer Calling Buddy – Compeer Calling Buddy Volunteers are matched with a person in mental health recovery and contact is made by phone. Compeer Calling Buddies make regular calls to the individuals they are matched with to chat. Some of our Compeer Participants who receive calls from Compeer Calling Buddies would prefer this sort of relationship but many of these individuals are on our waitlist and waiting for a match. Having a Compeer Calling Buddy during this time fosters connection and gives the individual an outlet and support which promotes recovery.
- E-Buddy – We also have individuals who would prefer to communicate through text, messaging, and/or email. These individuals are placed into matches with e-buddies. An E-Buddy Volunteer is matched with a person in mental health recovery and offers support through texts, messages and/or email.
We also have a Compeer program specific to veterans. When they are discharged from the military, one of the biggest pieces that veterans leave behind is the feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood. Many Veterans may never experience a bond that comes close for the remainder of their lives. The goal of CompeerCORPS is to help our veterans find that connection and feel what it was like to have a close friend again. Many veterans struggle to find purpose after the military. Our program helps veterans find a sense of purpose again while at the same time helping another Veteran.