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The COMPEER Program


Friendship is Powerful Medicine

Compeer is a volunteer support and social program that uses the power of friendship to help people with mental illnesses live happier, more satisfying lives.  The program recruits, screens and matches volunteers with  people recovering from mental illness.

Many Compeer participants experience loneliness and social isolation.  The Compeer program is a compliment to traditional therapy.  A Compeer friendship can make a substantial improvement in a participant's self-worth, a key ingredient in bringing a person back into the mainstream of community life.

The Compeer volunteer has the power to change the life of someone who is experiencing emotional issues or in mental health recovery. 

Our Goals

  • To assist individuals with mental illnesses with their recovery through supportive friendships and community connections.
  • To help combat the stigma associated with mental illnesses by engaging community members in relationships with people who have a psychiatric disability
  • To offer volunteers an opportunity for personal growth and satisfaction through helping others.

Professional Referrals

All Compeer participants must be referred by a mental health professional that is actively involved in their treatment.  Referrals can be made by a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, rehabilitation counselor or other mental health professional.

Interested applicants submit a self-report that provides information regarding interests/hobbies and services that the prospective participant is interested in receiving.   

Once a match is made, the referring professional meets with the volunteer and remains available for him/her for the duration of the match.

Volunteer Applicants

Volunteers must be 18 years of age.  They should be sensitive individuals who are willing to foster a caring, supportive relationship with an individual recovering from a mental illness.

Volunteers are expected to become positive role models to their Compeer friends while helping to raise their self-esteem, social skills and level of independence.

The Compeer Commitment

Volunteers agree to visit their Compeer friend for at least one hour per week for one year.  Many matches last for years.  Activities are mutually decided upon and reflect the interests of the consumer and the volunteer.

Volunteer Preparation & Training

All volunteers are carefully screened and interviewed.  A training program is provided and Compeer staff support volunteers with ongoing professional guidance to facilitate the development of productive friendships.

Volunteers meet regularly to discuss problems and successes as well as to share their experiences.  In addition, the consumer’s therapist and the Compeer Coordinator are always available to support both the volunteer and the consumer.


The Compeer staff works to match the consumer with a volunteer whose age, gender, interests and geographic location are compatible.


Many Compeer participants experience devastating loneliness and social isolation.  The help they need is often more than traditional therapy can offer.  A Compeer friendship can make a substantial improvement in a participant’s self-worth, a key ingredient in bringing a person back into the mainstream of community life.

Volunteers have the opportunity to help fill the gap between clinical services and community acceptance of people recovering from psychiatric disabilities.


In recognition of its achievements, the Compeer program has received the Certificate of Significant Achievement Award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Presidential Volunteer Action Award and Six Points of Light awards.

Inquiries & Applications

For further information about the Compeer Program or to learn how to initiate a match, please contact the Compeer Coordinator at:
Phone:  516-489-2322, ext. 1260
E-mail:  Rhea Spina