In Search of Mentors who Can Help Combat Loneliness
The Mentor Corps can help bring back joy
In 2020, Specialisterne established the Mentor Corps as a way of solving this problem. Sebastian Biltz, the facilitator behind the Mentor Corps, is very conscientious about the responsibility towards the mental health of our autistic consultants.
”We noticed that our consultants – in particular those who were told to stay at home – were expressing a feeling of loneliness and they were missing someone to talk to. As an employer, Specialisterne feels socially responsible for the employees. And for that reason, we realised that we had to do something.”
The volunteer Mentor Corps is an important part of this solution. But we need more mentors who are able to spend 2-8 hours a month with their mentee – the employees at Specialisterne.
A mentor does not have to be an autism expert. The most important thing is that he or she is a good listener, is empathic and willing to spend quality time with the mentee.
Sebastian emphasises: “We do not have any set goals to reach. The most important thing is to be curious about the other person and listen as the other person talks about everyday challenges. Would he or she like to change something? Or does he or she just want someone to talk to?”.
Sebastian explains that not only the mentee benefits from participating in the Mentor Corps. “Many mentors have told us that improving the quality of life for another person makes them happier as well. At the same time, our autistic employees have some unique perspectives that often allow our mentors to adapt a different world view.”
Autistic people are passionate about their areas of expertise and this enthusiasm is contagious. Meeting a person who is deeply involved in a topic that you take for granted can really add new perspectives on life. This can be anything from types of moss, brutalist architecture to techno, and many autistic people are very happy to share their in-depth knowledge of such topics. And as a mentor, you get a chance to take part in this enthusiasm.
During covid–19, activities are often limited to a walk through the nature paths in Ballerup, Denmark; however, Sebastian imagines that many other activities will be added to the scheme whenever possible. This might include sports, watching a film, playing mini-golf and board games, or taking part in cultural experiences.
You will receive training before becoming a mentor: Following an information meeting and a talk with Sebastian, you take part in an introductory course. Then Sebastian matches you with a mentee. Once mentor and mentee have met for the first time, Sebastian talks to both of them in order to ensure that it is indeed a good match.
When you have completed the introduction process, Sebastian prefers the mentor to sign up for at least 12 months:
“Our autistic employees need time to establish a relation and changes require a lot of energy from them.”
Sebastian also wants to arrange mentor meetings. He wants mentors to meet up for supervision and social get-togethers. He says that the mentors are never on their own and that he is always available for guidance. This might be needed if a mentee is having a crisis or if the mentor needs guidance.
Would you like to find out more about the option of becoming a volunteer mentor with us?