Adult/Older Adult > Other OMHSAS Initiatives
Bullet Compeer
Bullet Deaf & Hard of Hearing
Bullet MH/MR Positive Practices Resource Team
Bullet I'm the Evidence Mental Health Campaign
Bullet Older Adult Efforts
Bullet Spiritual Supports Facilitation



Who are WE? Compeer matches caring, sensitive, and trained volunteers in one–to-one friendships with children and adults referred by mental health professionals. Compeer is considered an adjunct to therapy and is based on the concept that a volunteer’s friendship and support can offset the loneliness and isolation that accompany mental illnesses. Volunteers visit their Compeer friend for a minimum of four hours a month for a year and share a variety of social, recreational, and educational activities with their friends.

History: Compeer was established in 1973 in Rochester, NY. In 1980 the NYS Office of Mental Health became interested in replicating this innovative volunteer program and sponsored two workshops for mental health professionals on “Compeer – A Model Program.” Based on New York State’s success, Compeer received a National Institute of Mental Health grants, which provided funding to establish an international Compeer office. The office of Compeer International provides consultation, training, and support to affiliates as well as assisting in the development of new affiliates.

Today: Compeer affiliates are sponsored by a variety of mental health and volunteer non-profit agencies throughout the nation. Today, there are 100 locations in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Pennsylvania has 9 active Compeer affiliates throughout the state. The Compeer program offers the opportunity to change a lonely life. Compeer volunteers take action, using the qualities, skills, talents and friendships to make a difference in the life of another. Just a few hours of volunteer time each month can have an influence that lasts a lifetime.

Cost Containment: Health care cost containment continues to be an area of concern, particularly to the non-profit sector. Compeer has provided a creative solution to deteriorating support systems through the utilization of trained volunteers. Psychiatric hospitalization cost can range as high as $200,000 annually. The cost of a Compeer friendship best practice is $1,500 per person or less. Cost per person averages between $375 - $1,100 depending upon area of the country. Compeer volunteer friendships have been shown to save mental health dollars and favorably alter utilization of other costly services.

Recognition: In June 2013, the (National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) approved the   inclusion of Compeer in the national registry as an evidence-based practice. In a research study conducted in 2008, individuals receiving   Compeer services demonstrated increased well- being and decrease of psychiatric symptoms, especially depression. Compeer has also been recognized as a model mental health volunteer program and has been highlighted in print and electronic media including CBS Morning News, NBC Nightly News, Sally Jesse Raphael, Newsweek, Family Circle, Psychology Today and recently in Self. In addition, the program has received the Presidential Recognition Award by the Department of Health and Human Service, the first Eleanor Roosevelt Community Service Award, the Presidential Volunteer Action Award, four Points of Light awards, and recognition from the American Psychiatric Association.

New Programs: Pennsylvania’s Coalition of Compeer affiliates is starting a new pilot program called “Compeer Corps Vet to Vet Program” in 2013/2014. Using the Vet to Vet model developed by Compeer Inc. of Rochester NY,   this new PA pilot program will focus on the special needs of the veteran population on their path to mental health recovery now that they are back in civilian life. In the past year Compeer has been working on establishing the groundwork for this pilot program. For more information on the program contact any Compeer office in Pennsylvania.

Funding: The PA Compeer Coalition received a $15,000 grant from OMHSAS to be used during the time period of November 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. The primary purpose of this grant was for the Compeer programs of Pennsylvania to be strengthened through promotion, collaboration, cultural and linguistic competence, and expansion of services to the veteran population. Another application was submitted to OMHSAS for 2013/2014 for $19,000 and was awarded so Compeer may continue their efforts in the implementation of the Vet to Vet pilot program in Pennsylvania.

How to Start a Compeer Program in Pennsylvania: Mental health professionals, administrators, and community leaders interested in beginning Compeer in their county should submit a proposal to the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) and Compeer Inc. Upon approval, OMHSAS will help with start up fees and technical assistance. A Service Mark Agreement is completed by Compeer Inc. Startup fees provide material and forms on program procedures, recruitment, training, evaluation, and staff development; technical assistance and on-site consultation; and one registration at a Compeer Annual Conference. Written, telephone, and on-site consultation, monthly newsletters, program public relations, and media development are all part of the ongoing support offered by Compeer International Office.

Further information is available from Compeer, Inc., 400 Andrews St., Rochester, New York 14704, 800-836-0475 or

Pennsylvania Compeer Coalition

  • Please visit the PA Compeer Coalition web site -
  • The mission of the Pennsylvania Compeer Coalition is to provide support to affiliate programs whose volunteers foster mental health recovery through friendship.
  • The vision of the Pennsylvania Compeer Coalition strives to provide access to Compeer services for people in mental health recovery.

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Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Pennsylvania Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The PA Office for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, or ODHH, provides advocacy, information, and referrals for Pennsylvanians who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or deaf blind, and their families and caregivers.

Online Community
HearingExchange is an online community for people with hearing loss and their family members. HearingExchange has been offering information, support, and advice since 2000. HearingExchange now also has two groups on Facebook, one of which is specifically for teens or young adults. Facebook is one of the largest online social networking groups. HearingExchange Teens on Facebook is moderated by Mel Paticoff, a college student studying to become a teacher of the deaf. HearingExchange Teens is an excellent way for teens and young adults to connect and socialize with others who completely "get" what it's like to have a hearing loss.

Mental Health/Mental Retardation Positive Practices Resource Team

The Positive Practices Resource Team (PPRT) is a joint initiative between the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) and the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) to assist individuals with a dual diagnosis of MH/MR. The purpose of the PPRT is to identify and develop system capacity and resources that will be dedicated to addressing issues pertaining to a person’s behavioral support needs. This initiative addresses those issues that, in the past, often resulted in state hospital/center admissions or incarceration. The PPRT assists providers in continuing to serve those individuals who are experiencing difficulties and enhancing the provider’s ability to provide comprehensive services in the future.

PPRT members include the following: State Hospital and State Center Staff, ODP and OMHSAS field office staff, pharmacists from the State Hospitals and State Centers, the Bureau of Autism Services, Health Care Quality Unit staff, and advocacy groups.

If you would like to request assistance from PPRT, please contact your local county MH/MR office who is responsible for making referral.

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I'm the Evidence Mental Health Campaign


I’m the Evidence/Mental Health Campaign (ITE/MH) is a campaign to raise awareness about how each of us can positively impact the lives of people in mental health recovery, by honoring human potential, creating opportunities, and offering encouragement. To learn more about mental health recovery, read the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Working Definition of Recovery from Mental and/or Substance Use Disorders.

ITE/MH celebrates people who are the living Evidence of mental health recovery, as well as those individuals, organizations, and communities that offer support and hope along the journey.

ITE/MH Goals
The Campaign goals are to:

  • Increase awareness of recovery. ITE/MH aims to increase awareness that people recover from mental illness.
  • Engage individuals, organizations, and communities in the support of recovery. ITE/MH seeks to engage individuals, organizations, and communities in the support of recovery, by honoring human potential and inspiring hope, creating opportunities, and offering encouragement.
  • Celebrate individuals, organizations, and communities that support recovery. ITE/MH celebrates people who are living examples of recovery, and the individuals, organizations, and communities that support recovery.

ITE/MH Values
The ITE/MH poem expresses the values at the heart of the Campaign: belief, hope, giving, connectedness, action, example, encouragement, and possibility.
We honor and celebrate everyone who lives and supports these values.

The I’m the Evidence poem was written as an affirmation of the human spirit and aims to capture the essence of the values and actions that are important in the growth, healing, and recovery journey. At its core, the poem is intended to inspire people moving through life’s challenges, as well as those who support them—we believe that these roles are very fluid and there is tremendous value in experiencing both. The use of the words “I’m the Evidence” makes plainly visible our belief in the values weaved throughout the poem. Whether facing mental illness, addiction, cancer or other distressing/disabling life experiences, the need for hope and support is paramount. Seeing—and sharing—the words “I’m the Evidence” offers an opportunity for empowerment and connection with others.

Visit the ITE/MH Website:

The ITE/MH Campaign gives special thanks to the PA Department of Public Welfare, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for living the values of the Campaign and providing partial funding support.


Older Adult Efforts

Behavioral Health and Aging Resource Manual
The Resource Manual Workgroup of the Older Adult Advisory Committee is pleased to announce that the Behavioral Health and Aging Resource Manual is now available.  The manual is not meant to diagnose disorders or recommend treatment.  The intent of this manual is to provide information regarding the common behavioral health issues of older adults.  Please select the link to access the manual.

Older Adult Peer Specialist Initiative

Pennsylvania Department of Aging Web Site

Long Term Living in PA Web Site

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Spiritual Supports Facilitation

Spiritual Supports Facilitation is a new initiative developed by the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to formally recognize the importance of Spiritual Supports in the mental health recovery process. Spiritual Supports Facilitation joins the broad-based recovery initiative by addressing issues of spirituality in recovery and assisting consumers in connecting with the spiritual supports of their choice. We do this by:

  • Increasing awareness of the importance of spirituality. Spiritual Supports Facilitation offers spirituality and recovery-based education and presentations in treatment centers and in the community. We present to consumers, providers, family, and community supports in a variety of settings such as drop-in centers, churches, conferences, tai chi centers, club houses, CSP groups, etc.
  • Facilitating opportunities to dialog about spirituality in treatment centers and in the community. Spiritual Supports Facilitators attend many statewide conferences and events and frequently facilitate workshops and presentations. Spiritual Supports Facilitators complement and network with community-based spiritual supports providers, local advocacy groups, peer support specialists, local Community Support programs, and facility- based chaplaincy to support consumers’ spiritual support choices in recovery.
  • Developing resources to support spirituality perspectives. Through discovering and sharing information and media we can educate and support insights into the understanding of spirituality. We share information in a variety of ways such as handouts and Internet resources. We invite others to report and share whatever spirituality resources they may know of or have available.
  • Identifying the challenges and barriers to consumers receiving desired spiritual supports services. Unfortunately, social stigma continues to exist for mental health consumers in some spiritual community settings. Many challenges exist, such as availability of spiritual resources and supports in treatment settings and disrespect or non-acceptance of various spiritual practices, both traditional and non-traditional. It is important to address these problems and enter into dialog and identify solutions individuals may use to cope with and overcome the barriers.

For more information please contact the Spiritual Supports Facilitators:

Bob Manrodt
PO Box 300
State Route 422, Sportsman Road
Wernersville, PA 19565-0500
Phone: 610-678-3411, x362

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