Making Friends, Changing Lives.


Compeer was founded in 1973 in Rochester, N.Y., and it started with just 12 volunteers. Today, nearly 4,000 volunteers in Compeer locations around the world serve people with mental illnesses.

The Compeer program provides friends for youth and adults referred by mental health professionals. The concept of the healing power of friendship is well-documented to support individuals on their path to recovery from mental illness. Compeer believes in the potential of recovery through community connections and intentional friendships with caring adult volunteers, with the greater goals of reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, improving wellness, empowering individuals and preventing suicide. 


The National Institute of Mental Health chose Compeer as a model program in 1982 and funded the development of similar programs throughout the nation. Today, Compeer is a model mental health organization with over 50 locations in the U.S., Canada and Australia. 


Routinely recognized as a national model, the agency has received the Presidential Recognition award by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the inaugural Eleanor Roosevelt Community Service award, the Presidential Volunteer Action award, four Points of Light awards and recognition from the American Psychiatric Association. 

In 2014 Compeer’s Model of supportive friendship was included in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Read the Press Release

In 2012 Compeer Chautauqua joined forces with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to raise funds for research and prevention programs and awareness of the need for suicide prevention, while reducing the stigma associated with often underlying mental disorders. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education adn advocacy as well as to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.  

Compeer Chautauqua is proud to be an annual sponsor of a local Out of the Darkness Walk, a national event expected to unite more than 100,000 walkers and raise more than $7.5 million for suicide prevention efforts.


Highlights of the History of Compeer in Chautauqua County