Global Lyme Alliance (GLA) today announced the launch of “Lyme Link,” its new—and the Lyme disease community’s first—peer-to-peer mentor program. Lyme Link is a free resource that matches those affected by Lyme and other tick-borne diseases with volunteers who provide emotional support and hope.
“Our new program,” said Sara Tyghter, GLA’s Director of Education and Outreach, “will connect Lyme patients, caregivers or family members with knowledgeable and empathetic individuals who have already experienced the many challenges of living with Lyme, and who can provide effective support.” Tyghter added, “Connecting to others like themselves allows for those affected to share their emotions—fear, stress, confusion, frustrations, guilt—while helping patients find new ways to lighten their load.”
Peer support is different from other forms of social support. In it an individual is connected to a specific individual who has knowledge from their own experiences with tick-borne illnesses. Studies show that peer support is effective for patients suffering from a variety of diseases including cancer, brain injury, multiple sclerosis and numerous other health conditions. According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on the effects of peer mentoring on diabetes patients, those with peer mentors showed significant improvements in blood sugar control after six months. Lyme patients will particularly benefit from mentoring due to the often isolating and misunderstood nature of the disease.
Those who want to become a GLA mentor or mentee need to complete an online matching survey at GLA.org/peer-peer-mentor-program. A GLA peer mentee is paired with a mentor who has faced similar challenges themselves. The individual is then matched with a person with a similar profile, including age, gender, stage of the disease, how long it took to get diagnosed, and experiences with treatments. Peer mentors are available to communicate by phone, email or video chat.
“We are thrilled about this new program because it reflects GLA’s ongoing commitment to improving the lives of all those affected by Lyme disease,” said Scott Santarella, GLA’s CEO. “This program will make sure that any individual affected by Lyme or other tick-borne diseases is supported through their often difficult Lyme journey.”
GLA’s new peer program is one of the organization’s many initiatives to provide support to those impacted by Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. GLA’s Physician Network, for example, has helped thousands to access Lyme specialists worldwide. Moreover, GLA volunteers answer questions from patients around the globe and provide information about those physicians in a patient’s geographic area knowledgeable about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. GLA also offers access to support groups; this is a great opportunity for patients, family members and caregivers to talk and meet with others who share their experiences.
“Each person experiences Lyme in a singular way,” said Santarella. “That makes it essential for us to help patients in any way we can to improve their quality of life.”
About Global Lyme Alliance
Global Lyme Alliance is the leading 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to conquering Lyme and other tick-borne diseases through research, education and awareness. GLA has gained national prominence for funding some of the most urgent and promising research in the field, while expanding education and awareness programs for the general public and physicians. We support those around the globe in need of information about tick-borne diseases. Learn more at GLA.org.