How Does Compeer Work?
The Compeer Program matches community volunteers in supported friendships with adults who are receiving mental health treatment. Participants are referred to the program by their mental health professional. Community volunteers are screened, trained, and meet with the selected participant's mental health professional before they learn the idenity of the client. Once the Compeer Director and the client's mental health professional agree that this is a match with good potential for success, the Compeer Director introduces the pair. They spend time together for a minimum of one hour per week, or four hours per month. The minimum commitment requested by Compeer is at least one year.
Compeer volunteers help provide rehabilitative social support, advocacy and companionship to their friend. This friendship brings new access to the community for participants. Volunteers gain a meaningful and rewarding friendship. Both participants experience an enhanced appreciation of friendship.
Ongoing support is provided to enhance the volunteer's experience. Compeer of Johnson County serves only the adult population, so volunteers need to be 23 years of age or older.
Many of our matched pairs have lasting friendshps that extend years beyond the original committment. Compeer friendships are deeply valued by both clients and volunteers.
Compeer of Johnson County, Iowa was established in 2000 and started making matches in 2002. As the community becomes more aware of the benefits of the program, support and participation have increased. In fiscal year 2016, we have 18 matched and 18 people on the waiting list. It is our expectation that the program will continue to grow and expand.
The first Compeer Program was established in 1973 in Rochester, New York. The National Institute of Mental Health chose Compeer as a model program in 1982 and funded the development of similar programs throughout the nation. Today, Compeer is a model mental health organization with over 60 affiliates in the United States, Canada and Australia.The compeer model is recognized as a best practice for mental health recovery by the American Psychological Association. In 2013 Compeer Inc., of whom we are an affiliate, is recognized by the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.
What People are Saying
- Participants: "When I am out with my friend, I feel I am part of what is happening in a busy world and I am not alone. I see other people together and I no longer feel different because I am with my volunteer friend."
- Referring Mental Health Professionals: "This is a wonderful program that has really assisted my client to engage with another person other than mental health staff. The volunteer is very competent, aware and and caring. I am grateful for her services and that of the Compeer Program."
- Volunteers: "I would recommend Compeer as a volunteer opportunity. It proves situations for you to learn so many things too!"
What a difference a friend makes!