Characteristics, motivations and experiences of volunteer befrienders for people with mental illness
MetadataShow full item record
Background The literature suggests that many people in the general population tend to distance themselves from those with mental illness. However, there are volunteers that behave differently, spending their free time with people with mental illness and providing direct input in the form of befriending. Whilst there are a range of befriending programmes, little is known about who these volunteer befrienders are, and a previous review of different forms of volunteering in mental health care found data on only 63 befrienders. Methods We conducted a systematic electronic search of databases (BNI, CNIL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Registers, Web of Science) to detect all papers reporting characteristics of befriending volunteers in mental health care published between 2011 and April 2018. The articles retrieved were combined with previous papers identified in an earlier review and with relevant papers identified by experts in the field. The articles that met the inclusion criteria were extracted and narratively synthesised. Results Nine studies met the inclusion criteria for this review, reporting characteristics of a total of 577 volunteer befrienders. The most often reported characteristics were age and gender, motivations to volunteer and experience of the role. Whilst characteristics vary greatly, most volunteers are female, and the average age is 50 years. Motivations generally fit into the categories of “giving” and “getting” and experiences are mixed. Conclusion Published research on volunteer befrienders has increased in the last eight years, but is still limited. The range of characteristics suggests that there is a potential for encouraging a variety of people to volunteer as befrienders for people with mental illness. Understanding the characteristics and motivations of volunteers may help refine programmes and improve the experience of the volunteer befrienders.
AuthorsToner, S; HICKLING, L; Pinto da Costa, M; CASSIDY, M; Priebe, S
- Centre for Psychiatry 
The following license files are associated with this item: