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What is Compeer?

MHA’s Compeer program matches volunteers with adults in mental health recovery programs and isolated seniors (62+) at risk of worsening mental health concerns. Volunteers provide one-to-one supportive friendship and mentoring to offset the loneliness and social isolation that often accompanies mental illness and/or aging. Compeer is guided by a simple premise validated by research—that the support of friends is healing. Individuals matched with a Compeer volunteer often experience fewer hospitalizations, have increased self-esteem, and are more likely to adhere to their medication and treatment programs. The Compeer Model, based on recovery principles of autonomy, relatedness, and competency, is adaptable to meet the needs of local communities and different demographics, and is used by 53 affiliates in the United States, Australia, and Canada. 

Compeer Inc. provides supportive leadership to its affiliate programs through training, consultation, recruitment, and administrative services. Compeer was founded in 1973 in Rochester, NY. Compeer programs match community volunteers with youth, adults, seniors, and veterans living with mental illness. Volunteers provide supportive friendships and mentoring relationships to improve the quality of life of individuals and families in mental health recovery programs.

The Compeer Model is now included in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

“Compeer has brought healing friendships to thousands of people around the world,” said Bernice Skirboll who founded Compeer and serves on Compeer Inc.’s Board of Directors. “The inclusion of our model in the NREPP supports our efforts to improve the lives of individuals and families living with mental illness.” In addition, the American Psychological Association recognizes Compeer as a best-practices model.

What do Compeer friends do together?

One-to-One Friendship

Volunteers and friends agree to meet weekly for an hour, or every other week for two hours. The relationship is expected to last at least one year. The choice of activities varies and depends upon mutual agreement. Both friends are expected to pay for their own expenses. Examples of activities include: going for a walk, having a picnic, playing cards, gardening, or going to a movie together. Compeer also sponsors socials for matches to attend.

Compeer Calling

For those who are not able to commit to a one-to-one friendship, Compeer Calling is a good alternative. Compeer Callers make weekly phone calls to individuals who are waiting to be matched in a one-to-one Compeer friendship or prefer Compeer Calling.


How can I become a volunteer?

Compeer volunteers are individuals, age eighteen and over, from all walks of life. Compeer will only make same sex matches and does not match on a first come first serve basis. Instead, it is our goal to make compatible matches so that Compeer volunteers and friends will be likely to enjoy their time together. Those on the waiting list will be invited to Compeer socials in the meantime. To apply:

1) Complete this volunteer application and mail to PO Box 623 Shelby, NC 28151 or fax to 704-448-2016

2) Meet the Compeer coordinator for an interview.

3) Pass a criminal background & reference check.

4) Complete a two-hour orientation/training.

5) Assist the Compeer coordinator with selecting your match.

6) Meet and/or call your new friend and begin having fun while making a difference in your community!


How can I refer my client to the Compeer program?

Community agencies make referrals to Compeer on behalf of their client(s) by submitting this referral packet. If the client meets the admission criteria, the application then goes into a pool of referrals. Compeer does not match on a first come first serve basis. Instead, it is our goal to make compatible matches so that volunteers and friends will be likely to enjoy their time together. For this reason there may be a waiting period before a match is actually made. Those on the waiting list will be invited to participate in Compeer socials in the meantime.  

If you have additional questions about the Compeer program contact the Compeer Coordinator, Stacey Costner, at or 980-429-4037.