What is befriending?
Isolation is a common problem for people suffering from mental health difficulties. Research has shown that support and social interaction are vital for people recovering from mental health problems. But people with mental health difficulties are often cut off from family and friends because of the nature of their condition. The stigma around mental health difficulties means that sufferers can struggle to reach out to people around them. This can create a vicious cycle – where people with mental health problems are isolated within the community even though they need support and friendship to help them get well.
Befriending projects hope to bring people together for positive, supportive relationships that will reduce the isolation often felt by those with mental health difficulties.
Befriending is a relationship between a volunteer and a recipient which is initiated, supported and monitored by the local Mental Health Association.
How can befriending meet the needs of people with mental health difficulties?
How often will the befriendee and the befriender meet?
This can be arranged at the first meeting with the befriendee / befriender / coordinator. It may suit both the befriendee and befriender to meet weekly or every two weeks for one or two hours – this arrangement can be reviewed after three or four meetings). If the meeting time needs to be changed or if either party is running late the co-ordinator should be contacted in advance.
Project support for befriendees:
At the initial meeting between befriender coordinator and befriendee, a date will be agreed for the first review meeting where any issues can be raised by the befriendee in relation to the project. The project welcomes feedback from the befriendee, and at any stage the befriendee can contact the coordinator by phone, letter or through his/her representative. The befriendee will be encouraged to participate in the ongoing development of the project (if it is their wish to Development Officer so).
BEFRIENDING IS / IS NOT
Befriending is not:
WHO THE SERVICE IS FOR:
Those over 18 years of age, living in the community and experiencing mental health difficulties.
Those who feel isolated and find it hard to socialise
Those who would like to make new friends and try new things
Those who wish to develop new interests and hobbies
Those who wish to improve their social life
What we are / (are not)
We are Befrienders (not intimate friends)
We are Supportive (not seeking support)
We are Interested (not nosey, gossips or exploitative)
We are Empowering / Non Directive (not experts, teachers, pharmacists, counsellors, doctors, family members, parent, authoritative, supervisors)
We are facilitators – encouraging personal growth
We are honest
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