CURESZ is pleased and honored to announce the launch of its Friendsz program. Designed to support caregivers of loved ones with severe brain diseases and disorders, Friendsz pairs caregivers of loved ones recently diagnosed with schizophrenia and other serious psychiatric brain disorders and illnesses with mentors who have walked the journey of diagnosis and recovery from schizophrenia or severe mental illness alongside a loved one.

Prospective mentors are initially interviewed by a CURESZ staff member and given the opportunity to ask questions about the Friendsz program and share their caregiving story. Each prospective mentor is provided with a Guidebook for mentoring. After he or she has had the opportunity to review the Guidebook, a CURESZ Foundation staff member meets with the prospective mentor over video chat to discuss the Guidebook and ask the mentor various questions to insure that the mentor is knowledgeable about things to say and others to avoid, such as not offering a mentee medical advice.

Following a successful video interview, the prospective mentor is paired with a mentee. CURESZ uses its best efforts to pair mentors and mentees with similar backgrounds. Background information includes the age of family member with schizophrenia, location, religion, and the career backgrounds of the caregiver and the loved one struggling with schizophrenia.

By sharing their own caregiving experience with mentees, mentors provide a valuable resource and can be a meaningful bridge to educate and empower caregivers to shoulder the family burden that all caregivers experience. Mentors may share the ways and resources that they found helpful to educate themselves on their loved one’s illness as well as their own coping strategies for physical, mental and emotional support. Although mentors are not medical doctors or therapists and do not provide any medical or therapeutic support, they can provide hope to caregivers on their own journey of supporting a loved one with schizophrenia or related mental illnesses. While schizophrenia and related severe mental illnesses are chronic illnesses, there is hope for recovery and the prospect of a happy and meaningful life.

Mary Beth De Bord, a lawyer and CURESZ Board Member, is the leader of Friendsz. She has many years of caregiving experience. Other Friendsz mentors come from many different ethnic backgrounds, vary widely in age, and have held careers in diverse fields. Our newest mentors include a nurse, a retired owner of a construction company, a former educator, and a documentary filmmaker.

Since the launch of Friendsz, CURESZ has received an overwhelming number of requests for mentors. We hope more caregivers will consider becoming a Friendsz mentor and also will share this exciting opportunity with other families.

A mom shares her experience with Friendsz:

My daughter was diagnosed with a psychiatric brain disorder in the summer of 2015 when she was 17 years old. The following five years have at times been a blur and to say that it has been isolating is an understatement. Her psychiatric physician Stephen Rush (a CURESZ Board Member) told us about the new Friendsz program through CURESZ and I have been paired with Gayle, from Nevada. Even though it has been a short time since we have started our friendship, she already seems like an old friend, someone who has walked in my shoes and understands every emotion I have felt in the past five years. I’m so thankful for Gayle, her empathy and wisdom. I look forward to our friendship growing in the months to come.

Thank you, CURESZ, for understanding that psychiatric brain disorders affect not just the patient, but everyone who loves and supports them.

Debbie T.

June 4, 2020

Interested in becoming a CURESZ mentor or mentee? Please contact Mary Beth De Bord HERE.