"A Sense of Purpose": A Talk with a Peer Supporter
by Compeer staff
If I were to ask you about your favorite friend, does someone instantly come to mind? Is there someone that you know you can call to talk to when you are down? Someone that will listen to you? Someone that supports you?
Unfortunately, for many people with mental illness, the answer is no. Many of the symptoms associated with mental illness can cause isolation, distrust and a disconnect to others and to the community. Yet, we know that having a strong support system is crucial to living a healthy life.
Compeer was developed to provide that necessary support in order to help people with mental illness live happier, healthier, more productive lives. Through volunteer friendship and group activities, participants are reintegrated into the community, have increased stabilization and improved social support, and develop strong friendships.
One of the friendly faces that will greet you as you join Compeer is Linnette Graesser. Linnette has been involved with Compeer for almost three years as a Peer Recovery Supporter with Compeer. Get to know Linnette better through the interview that follows:
Describe your position within Compeer.
LG: As a Peer Recovery Supporter, I help plan and co-host several events each month where participants and their matches can get together with others and have fun while developing a support system. I help with behind the scenes office work, as well as spending some one on one visits with participants in their home or out in the community.
What do you like about Compeer?
LG: I like that Compeer gets people who might otherwise be isolated out and about enjoying events in public spaces with peers and volunteers. We always laugh and have fun just being there for each other.
Since you began with Compeer, how have you seen Compeer help people?
LG: I have seen quiet, withdrawn people develop into talkative and engaged individuals. Some of our clients have even obtained jobs or have begun volunteering for other organizations.
How has Compeer helped you personally?
LG: Compeer allows me, as a person who also has mental health issues, to have employment that fits my capabilities without causing me undue hardship. Most of all though, it gives me a sense of purpose. My own support system has grown with the program as well.
What has been your favorite Compeer experience?
LG: My favorite Compeer experience happened recently when I was able to help a client in a personalized and meaningful way. We were able to really bond and my support led her to an improvement in her circumstances.
Can you explain a little about being a Peer Recovery Supporter?
LG: Being a Peer Recovery Supporter is a unique experience in that my circumstances allow me to better relate to participants. It is helping where the helper is often supported in return just by forming friendships. I think all Peer Recovery Supporters must have the ability to relate better to clients than other helpers who don't have a lived experience, but because Compeer offers enrichment through friendship and enjoyable activities, being a Compeer Peer Recovery Supporter is all the better.
Compeer is a program of Mental Health America and is funded by MHRS and United Way of Clinton County. If you would like more information about Compeer, please contact Linnette at firstname.lastname@example.org or Michelle Rolf at email@example.com.