Celebrating Friendship – Addy & Morgan

Addy’s anxiety is overwhelming.

The boom of thunder or the wail of an ambulance will bring Addy to tears or send her hiding. She struggles to understand other people’s emotions, making it difficult for her to make friends.

Her anxiety is so profound just last year Addy needed to leave her school to instead be educated at home, a difficult decision for her working parents.

All of this left Addy with low self-esteem and self-confidence.

Addy’s parents learned about Compeer from a friend, and along with her medical professionals decided that it was an opportunity worth exploring.

Compeer had just the friend for Addy. Morgan was drawn to Addy’s spunk and the two hit it off from the first time they met.

“She is a very special and kind young girl with one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know.”

Morgan and Addy spend time together at the park or skating. But their time together is more than just hanging out. When Morgan arrives at her home to spend time together, Addy can be reluctant to go as she wrapped up in a game or other activity. Morgan understands her opportunity to be a role model and to help teach Addy how to be kind and respectful to one another. While she may have been enjoying something else when Morgan arrived, it’s important to honor commitments to one another including the promise to meet at a certain time and spend time together.

They also like to eat tacos. A lot of tacos. By eating out together Morgan has been able to encourage Addy to speak up for herself and interact comfortably with strangers by ordering her own meal and speaking with the wait staff.

While they having fun together, Addy is growing.

But her journey isn’t over. Even after ten months together Addy needs Morgan’s gentle nudge.

In December the Compeer Youth Program was taking a field trip together to see the “Festival of Lights” at the Hamburg Fairgrounds. Addy was excited to go, something she had wanted to do but was too far of a drive for her family. But when she arrived at Compeer and saw the van they would be traveling in with other Compeer friends, she immediately began to worry.

Would she get motion sick on the ride?

She’d never been so far away from her parents.

What exactly were they going to do?

It was too much! Addy was ready to go home.

But Morgan saw this challenge as an opportunity to help Addy grow. Keeping calm and understanding Addy’s concerns, Morgan carefully talked through the step-by-step itinerary of the trip. They would be together on the ride, and together with their new friends they would sing carols and enjoy the lights as they drive through the fairgrounds.

Because of Morgan gently challenging her, Addy was able to settle in and become comfortable with the field trip as planned. Together they experienced a magical night.

“I have seen Addy’s confidence grow…” Addy’s mom shared.

Thanks to Morgan’s friendship, and her training and encouragement from Compeer, Addy has become comfortable enough to return to a traditional school setting.

Celebrating Friendship – Phyllis & Chelsea

Phyllis is an amazing woman.

She is kind, social, adventurous, and always willing to try new experiences and new food.

Phyllis is also visually impaired, making it hard to get around leaving her pretty isolated and quite down.

Chelsea, a physical therapy student, was looking for a way to volunteer in the community and was particularly interested in helping older adults.

After completing volunteer training Chelsea and Phyllis met in December 2016, becoming fast friends.

Chelsea would bring Phyllis to Compeer-hosted events like the Halloween Party, enjoy trips to the apple orchard and outdoor concerts, and attend church or get groceries together.

Over the last two years Chelsea has helped Phyllis to feel less alone which has reduced her feelings of sadness.

“It’s like having a little sister around!” shared Phyllis.

And just as Chelsea has supported Phyllis in her growth, Phyllis too has been supportive of Chelsea and her studies. Even though she would tell Chelsea that school comes first, Chelsea always made time for her friend.

Chelsea recently shared exciting news with Phyllis – upon graduation from her physical therapy program she had received a job offer! Unfortunately, that offer would require her to move out of town bringing their regular get-togethers to an end.

Phyllis enjoys being out and about, and needs to keep active to avoid feeling down.

As their friendship winds down, our team will be working to keep Phyllis engaged in our regular activities and hopefully introduce her to a new friend soon.

Could that be you?


Compeer Superhero Race & Wellness Walk

as published by Step Out Buffalo


Event Category: For a Good CauseHealth & FitnessRuns/Walks/Rides, and Things To Do

Beginning in 1985 as the Run for Brain Research and evolving over time to become the Buffalo Superhero Race & Wellness Walk, the local mental health community has worked hard to increase awareness of, and raise money for, those striving for greater mental wellness in Western New York through this annual event. The event aims to raise $100,000 in proceeds to be shared among two local non-profits; Compeer of Greater Buffalo (Compeer) and The Mental Health Association of Erie County (MHA), for their mentoring and advocacy programs. The Superhero Race is a collaborative effort of providers, consumers, families, friends and caring community members dedicated to promoting awareness, reducing stigma and raising funds to assist youth striving for good mental health, who are served by Compeer and the MHA. The Superhero Race is an annual event that highlights the strength and diversity of the mental health community of Western New York, in addition to offering a premier racing venue for the larger community. In its 30+ year history, this event is projected to be the biggest, and most fun it’s ever been. The last three consecutive years have seen over 1,000 runners and walkers in attendance. Race Day events include 5k run and a 1.8 mile walk, an after party with music, zumba, food trucks, beverages, costumed superheroes, the Batmobile, a kid’s activities tent, a bounce house, vendors and more!

Unleash your own inner superhero at the event, come dressed as your best super hero, whether it’s a popular character, or one you create on your own. Medals are to be awarded for best running times in the race, and there is a $100 cash prize for the overall top male and female runner. Once registered online at www.buffalosuperherorace.com participants can raise pledge dollars to help the non-profits reach their fundraising goal. Race organizers are offering wonderful fundraising prize incentives, for both teams and individuals, as well, starting at the $25 pledge level! Check out the race website for more information on these incentives, and prizes.

This event is family friendly, and is one of the most enjoyable runs that Buffalo offers in the summer season! There are registration discounts for teams of 4 or more, and often fun contests leading up to the race. Follow their facebook page (www.facebook.com/BuffaloSuperheroRace) to stay in the loop on all the superhero fun! As organizers share, most kids need a hero, but the kids served by Compeer and the MHA need a superhero! The youth served live with mental health challenges, and/or may have experienced abuse/neglect and are involved in the court system. Your participation and contributions will go a long way to serve more at-risk youth, and improve their mental health.

Website | Register


O’Neil’s Journey in NFL with BiPolar Disorder

as reported with Herald-Tribune on April 9, 2018

Keith O'Neil

Keith O’Neil hadn’t slept in four nights when he walked into the office of Indianapolis head football coach Tony Dungy. Just acquired off waivers, O’Neil opened up to Dungy about his insomnia and issues with anxiety.

The former Tampa Bay Bucs head coach gathered the Colts’ team doctor and trainer, along with O’Neil and his wife, Jill, around a conference table. The four-year starter at linebacker for Northern Arizona University eventually was prescribed medicine for his insomnia and anxiety.

“Somehow I got through it and came back and started playing the best football of my life,” the 37-year-old said.

But the root cause remained undiagnosed.

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Bipolar Disorder Struggles led Buffalo counselor to a wonderful life

as published by The Buffalo News, by Scott Scanlon on December 8, 2017


Recovery is possible. You can get better,” says Karl Shallowhorn, Director of Community Advocacy with the Mental Health Association of Erie County and Compeer, talking with Terrance Johnson, a young man he meets with weekly.

Karl Shallowhorn has flourished during the last three decades.

Great marriage. Successful professional career. Wide circle of friends.

It’s been a far cry from the years that followed his first psychotic episode in February 1981.

Shallowhorn was 18, struggling through his second semester at General Motors Institute, and seeking solace in alcohol and other drugs.

He and his family had no inkling that bipolar disorder was about to overpower him.

“Quite honestly, the next seven years were a blur,” Shallowhorn said during a recent interview in his office at the Mental Health Association of Erie County (MHA).

His illness forced him to move from Michigan back home to Amherst with his parents, Lillie and Charles. He weathered seven hospitalizations in the behavioral health units at the former Buffalo General Hospital, Erie County Medical Center and the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

The turning point came 30 years ago next month, when a counselor encouraged him to attend a recovery program meeting. Such meetings have been part of his wellness strategy since.

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From Mental Health Institutionalization to Advocacy

as posted on OC87 Recovery Diaries (oc87recoverydiaries.com)


by Karl Shallowhorn, Director of Community Advocacy, Compeer & The Mental Health Association of Erie County

The Beginning

Like many others who live with bipolar disorder, my journey began early in life. It was 1980. I was a college freshman; five hundred miles away from home and in a very high stress environment. I had a history of alcohol use from high school but, when I entered college, I was introduced to marijuana. Initially it was fun, but as time went on, it served to help me cope with the many stressors I experienced. Weed simply served to accelerate the problems I was experiencing.

As a result of the academic rigor, lack of a viable support system, and chemical abuse, I experienced a perfect storm of circumstances that led to my first psychotic break which included persecutory delusions, auditory hallucinations, and a suicide attempt which led to me to being in a catatonic state. I was discovered by the college Residence Hall Director and taken to the local hospital’s psychiatric emergency room.

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