Mentoring relationships change over time and may end for a variety of reasons that are both predictable and unpredictable: a match may not get along, a participant may drop out of the program, life circumstances may make it difficult to continue the commitment, or the program ends9. Matches that end prematurely can result in negative outcomes for mentees, such as increases in problem behaviours25. These outcomes are especially associated with matches that end abruptly or unexpectedly26, as matches lacking appropriate closure can lead to youth feeling rejected and bad about themselves. Mentors and mentees should be made aware from the beginning that matches have a beginning, middle and end. They should be trained on the importance of formally closing a match and asking for staff support if they are struggling to maintain their match throughout the program. When mentors and mentees are unsure of how to manage difficult situations, some opt to abandon the relationship. It is important matches receive support from staff when difficulties arise to support them through these situations to prevent premature closure.
Whether planned or unplanned, closure is a common part of the match and should be handled appropriately. It is important to have an intentional closure process with the goal of ending the relationship positively and provide opportunities for learning9. Further detail can be found in Step 8: Tool A – Guidelines for Effective Closure of a Match.
Tips for Closing a Match:
- Staff should identify and clarify the reasons for closure with both the mentor and mentee in a constructive way that promotes learning from the experience.
- Encourage the mentor and mentee to share their feelings about ending the relationship.
- Mentors and mentees should discuss any successes and accomplishments in the match and speak honestly about their experience with one another.
- Matches should participate in a special activity for their last meeting. One idea is to hold a ‘graduation night’ which allow mentees to have a sense of closure with both the mentor and the program27.