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Pandemic leading to an increased need in volunteers to help those living with mental illness

Posted at 5:09 PM, Jan 22, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The pandemic has been hard on many, especially those living with mental illnesses. Mental health agency Compeer has noticed it first hand.

"More people have recognized during this time that they do have challenges, so we are getting a lot more calls," Tim Boling, CEO of Compeer said.

Compeer connects people with diagnosed mental illnesses with a volunteer to provide one-on-one attention as a friend, mentor, or just someone to talk to. The pandemic led to a record year for their services.

"We're up over 100%," Boling said, "we're serving twice as many people in 2020 as we were in 2019."

Volunteers can help in many ways, whether as a phone buddy, or an in-person mentor. John Richmond is one of them.

"It's been rewarding for me getting to be a part of someones life and have an impact in their life," Richmond said.

Richmond started volunteering in August, his buddy is just ten years old.

"I do think it's pretty eye opening to see mental health effects everybody," Richmond said.

As we approach one year of the pandemic, Compeer is in need of many more like Richmond.

"We have about 200 kids on our waiting list and 200 adults so we could use about 400 volunteers from the community to get that support," Lisa Johnson, director of volunteer engagement at Compeer, said.

Volunteers have to first go through a screening process, a link to all of that information can be found here. Compeer says just about anyone can help, because so many are struggling.

Everyone has some sort of mental health challenge," Boling said, "it's just some of us are diagnosed and some of us aren't."