The Compeer Program and the healing power of friendship

The Compeer Program at Far West Center is now in the twenty-first year of "Making Friends. Changing Lives," the motto of Compeer Inc. At the Far West Center Compeer Office we have made numerous friendship matches that have decreased the depression and isolation that often comes with managing mental illness. 

In this era of new technology and medical research, mental illness is still too often misunderstood by the general public.  Severe mental illness is a physical illness. Mental illness is an imbalance of some of the countless number of chemicals that make up brain function. Mental illness is treated with medication in order to restore brain chemicals to a healthy functioning balance. Persons in recovery from mental illness also benefit from education regarding brain function and coping with symptoms. 

People do recover from mental illness. It is unfortunate that some obstacles stand in the way of people in recovery from reconnecting back with their communities. There are the obstacles of stigma and misunderstanding that exist in the general public. Also there are those obstacles of wrong information and incorrect portrayals of mental illness in the media. In addition, there are personal obstacles like depression and anxiety that often come with managing mental illness.  

The Compeer Program is available to help adults in recovery from mental illness to regain a social network and develop friendships. The Compeer Program is in need of adult volunteers to offer their friendship to help others. Compeer Volunteering is easy to schedule because it only requires one hour per week or four hours per month and is determined by each individual volunteer. Each Compeer Match makes their own schedule. If you want more information please call 440-835-6212, ext. 242 or email

Please take a moment to read these personal stories that demonstrate the healing power of friendship that Compeer provides.

Kim has been matched with her Compeer Volunteer, Laura, since October 2007. Their match, like many in our program, continues long after the required twelve months. In June, Laura invited Kim to her daughter's wedding. Kim attended and was treated like part of Laura's family  Laura emailed to our Compeer Office a joyful photo of herself and Kim at the wedding.

Nancy was a member of the Girl Scouts and her high school marching band. She grew up to be a very intelligent woman. As she was reaching adulthood , the symptoms of mental illness began. Nancy and her family were baffled as to why this occurred. Her mom, Sally, helped her receive the health care treatment she needed. Nancy grew increasingly more anxious and started to refuse to leave her bedroom.

Sally encouraged Nancy to join Compeer and accompanied her on the Compeer Events Nancy agreed to attend. In the Compeer Program, Nancy experienced a warm, supportive, and friendly atmosphere of peers, volunteers, and program staff. Gradually Nancy started attending more events and starting more conversations. Her social network grew and so did the number of her interests! 

Nancy has been matched with two volunteers since joining Compeer. The first match lasted a year. Now Nancy and her match, Amanda, enjoy meeting at local restaurants and movie theaters. They are developing a friendship bond via their mutual love for Sci Fi, pets, and movies!

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Volume 2, Issue 17, Posted 6:25 PM, 08.20.2010