Dr. Leyla de Amicis
Research Assistant in Clinical Psychology, University of Edinburgh
I am a volunteer befriender with Health in Mind. I am also a researcher and I have studied a lot about prejudice and stigma.
We know that as human beings is natural for us to divide people into groups but our stereotypes can be very harmful and misleading. One of the best ways to overcome this is contact, like creating bonds with stigmatized people, acknowledge that we can have similar interests and we are all unique vulnerable human beings. This really helps create a positive inclusive society.
For me befriending means spending some enjoyable time with a nice person that went through some hard experiences in her life.It helps me challenge any preconceptions of what having schizophrenia looks like, and understand how tough/resilient someone labelled as schizophrenic can be. It allows me to support someone great that would tend to be left out from our community.
So befriending is worth it for all of us, to build a really open-minded and diverse society. If you can spare two hours a week, do befriend!