Never Underestimate the Power of Friendship – Carol and Mary

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and every year the main goal is to fight stigma, provide support, and advocate for support of people with mental health challenges and their families.

A brief history about Mental Health Awareness Month. It has been observed in May in the US since 1949. The main purpose has always been to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses. Raising awareness nationally will help reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illness today.

Compeer of Suburban Philadelphia will recognize a match experience that has been encouraging and supporting of each other during the social distancing of the pandemic. Compeer friendships have a significant, lasting, positive impact on social inclusion and social support for people in recovery. 

Carol has been volunteering with Compeer for a few years now. Carol has graciously decided to provide support for two Compeer matches. One of her friends Mary E., who has been matched since April 2020, has been feeling especially lonely during these trying times. Carol stays in contact with Mary regularly by phone and by sending supportive mail. Mary enjoys Italian food because her mom cooked Italian food when she was younger. Prior to the pandemic, Mary had been volunteering at the Welcome House Clubhouse where she found regular support. Their goal is to have face-to-face contact once the social distancing ends and enjoy brunch in town. Mary finds Carol to be a very engaging and caring person. They both have an interpersonal connection and find comfort through their friendship.

Friendship is something you never outgrow in life. No matter how old you are or what you’re going through, healthy and close friendships encourage positive mental health and well-being. Friends can celebrate with you through the good times in life and be there for you through the bad. 

As we continue to experience the “stay-at-home” restrictions, we are learning that in addition to people who experience mental illness, more and more seniors, individuals with disabilities, and others are becoming more isolated and alone. In addition, the number of suicide attempts and suicide completions have dramatically increased in the past two months, as depression, anxiety and hopelessness escalate.  

Compeer makes a difference and makes that connection with people looking for supportive friendships. Volunteers provide great value to their communities, both economically and socially. But the benefits of volunteering can be even greater for you! We are asking volunteers to give their time to the value of friendship by joining Compeer. We are hoping that many of you would be willing to connect with someone who is struggling during this period of isolation. 

Here is how it works: Individuals who are in need and want to receive support are referred to Compeer by healthcare professionals. The referred individual will be screened, and the Compeer process will be fully explained to them. Once accepted, a match is made with a volunteer of the same gender with similar interests. Volunteers are trained and supported throughout the Compeer friendship experience.

If you would like to participate in the program and volunteer, please contact us: olga@compeerfriends.org or call: 800-564-PEER! Thank you!

Please visit www.compeerfriends.org for additional information.


This blog was written by guest author, Olga Antonyuk. Olga is the Program Director of Compeer of Suburban Philadelphia located in Swarthmore, which is a program of Voice and Vision, Inc. You can read more about Olga on the Staff page of the Voice and Vision website.

Photo by Matthew Henry via Unsplash with Mental Health Awareness ribbon added.

Tags: Compeer, friendship, mental health awareness, stigma, Volunteer

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