Nursing home residents suffering from mental health issues, like loneliness and depression, may benefit from peer-mentoring programs, according to new findings published Thursday in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine

University of British Columbia researchers found “significant decreases” in depression and loneliness scores of residents six months after a peer-mentoring program was implemented in the facility. 

The program was implemented in only eight nursing homes for the study, but despite the small sample size, researchers concluded peer-mentoring “may provide an opportunity for people living in long-term care homes to contribute in a purposeful way and improve their mental health and quality of life.”

“Developing quality relationships is difficult, despite the available social programs and support from staff. Residents who are lonely may benefit from the meaningful connections made through helping others,” they wrote.