S61: Making a positive difference with friendship.

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By September 26, 2017 No Comments

Authors: Victor Kline, Christopher Stevens

Year: 2017

Event: 2017 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Community, Culture, Society,Reducing Stigma and Discrimination,Wellbeing

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: A significant impact on mental health is made outside the clinical setting. Self-confidence, self-esteem, quality of social interaction and community experience are all enhanced with simple friendship. Seeking volunteers for friendship dyads also increases public education about mental illness and subsequently reduces the stigma and discrimination associated with it.

The rapid evolvement of Compeer indicates the portion of the population in need of community interaction. It is also testimony to the recognition by health professionals of the powerful adjunct value of friendship in improving mental wellbeing.

A summary of qualitative and quantitative studies reveal how intentional friendship model facilitated by Compeer can be an effective way of increasing social support for people experiencing mental illness. In addition, the volunteer model enables fresh understanding of mental health to permeate throughout the community, culture and society.
The results of the Compeer Annual Surveys and case study reflect positive experiences amongst mental health consumers, volunteers and mental health professionals.

The Compeer friendship model is a potent yet cost-effective way of improving the lives of adults with mental illness. It also reduces stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness in the community, culture and society.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: An improved understanding of the potential positive impact on wellbeing of a mental health consumer when participating in an intentional friendship with a volunteer.

Learning Objective 2: A broader and deeper awareness amongst mental health professionals and consumers of a cost-effective and powerful tool that can be used to support improvement in mental health.

Brian H. McCorkle, Erin C. Dunn, Yu Mui Wan & Cheryl Gagne, 2009, "Compeer Friends: A Qualitative Study Of A Volunteer Friendship Programme For People With Serious Mental Illness", International Journal of Social Psychiatry, Vol. 55(4),291-305
Rosa Sacca & Christopher Ryan, 2011, "Relationships Between Interpersonal Contact As A Volunteer Companion And Stigma", Australian Psychiatry, Vol.19, No.5, October 2011, 439-444

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