Buddy System Project

The US military have a well-established buddy system where two individuals are linked together to monitor and help each other. In adventurous or dangerous activities each may be able to prevent the other becoming a casualty or rescue the other in a crisis. When a less-experienced member is paired with one who has served for longer, they can learn from and be supported by frequent contact.

At Surf Action, we recognise how well this model can translate into a support setting and we seek to build on naturally occurring support relationships within our organization as a basis for our Buddy Support System. The Buddy System is part of the Surf Action Joined-Up Recovery Model


What is Buddy Support beyond the military?

Buddy Support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on the key principles of respect, shared experience and responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. It is a process dedicated to promoting empowerment and self-determination in the service of recovery.

What is a Buddy Support Provider in a mental health setting?

A Buddy Support Provider is a person with a mental health and/or co-occurring disorder, who has been trained to help others with these disorders identify and achieve specific life and recovery goals. This person is actively engaged in his/her own recovery, and volunteers to provide peer support to others engaged in a similar mental health treatment.

What is the purpose of a Buddy Support System?

To provide opportunities for Veterans to take control of their own recovery.
To teach and support the learning of skills needed to facilitate one's recovery.
To make Veterans aware of available services and choices.
To help Veterans develop a sense of wellness and self-worth.
To help Veterans re-engage with society.
To provide Veterans with someone to turn to for mutual support.
To provide early warning of problems in Veterans’ lives.
To help relieve some of the stress on Veterans’ partners/families

What do the Buddies do?

They serve as role models by sharing their personal recovery stories, showing that recovery from mental illness is possible.
They assist Surf Action and help teach goal setting, problem solving, symptom management skills, and a variety of recovery tools.
They empower by helping the veterans identify their strengths and identify support, resources and skills.
They help to boost the self-esteem and sense of worth of the veterans.
They advocate healthy living.
They are contactable at short notice to provide reassurance.
They will alert Surf Action if they sense that a crisis may be likely.
They treat the veterans with respect and recognise the essential confidentiality requirements of their position.