Compeer mentoring program gives teens sense of belonging

Far West Center, a nonprofit community mental health services agency, offers a Compeer mentoring program for youth ages 14-17. Far West Center has a successful ongoing Compeer Program, starting in 1989, for adults in recovery.  Compeer International was awarded a federal grant to promote nationwide mentoring for youth receiving mental health services. Far West Center, located in Building 4 on the UH St. John Medical Center Health Campus, is one of 12 Compeer affiliates to receive funding for a youth mentoring program.

Compeer is looking for caring adults that can offer 4 hours each month being a caring mentor for a teen, ages 14-17. Compeer provides training and continuous, one-to-one support to qualifying mentors. Compeer mentors serve to provide compassion, emotional support and a sense of acceptance for their teen mentor matches. 

Mentoring time is offered in a variety of ways including phone calls, meeting to take walks, or enjoying a bicycle path together. As the need for social distancing decreases, volunteer mentors can meet their matches for lunch and attend community activities together. What is unique about Compeer volunteering is that each mentor creates his or her own monthly volunteering schedule.

Research reports are showing that depression and anxiety are on the rise among our teens regardless of demographic differences. Now there are more stressors presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, many parents and teachers know the importance of linking teens to counseling and mental health services in order to treat symptoms and provide coping tools. It has been proven by Compeer International that when mentoring is added for teens already engaged in counseling it increases self-esteem and a focus on positive goals.

Your 4 hours of volunteering will make a significant difference for a teen. Teens managing depression and anxiety often feel isolated and develop low self-esteem. Isolating from peers and the community leads to additional, complicated problems. As a mentor you will help a teen feel a sense of acceptance, belonging and hope for his or her future.

Your time, attention and talking about shared interests can put a teen on a path to success. The Compeer service model is evidence-based. Also, the Compeer program is fun for both members and mentors!

Please consider joining our Compeer team of caring mentors. Questions prior to application are always welcome. Call me, Compeer’s volunteer coordinator, Denise Ayres, at 440-835-6212, ext. 242. Emails welcome at:

To refer a teen, ages 14-17, to our Compeer Mentoring Program please call Candace Clark at 440-835-6212, ext. 241, or email:

Denise Ayres

Denise Ayres is a Licensed Social Worker employed by Far West Center to coordinate and facilitate mental health recovery programs for adults managing mental illness.  Denise Ayres coordinates the Compeer Programs, Compeer for adults and Compeer Youth Mentoring, at Far West Center.

Denise Ayres is a Westlake native, a graduate of Tri-C West and Cleveland State University.  She is a mother of four. 

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 9:01 AM, 04.21.2020