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The mental health benefits of volunteering

The mental health benefits of volunteering

Is volunteering within your community a goal for you? It’s great for the community and research has highlighted the value it adds to your wellbeing and mental health. Finding the volunteer role that’s right for you is key and committing to as little as a few hours per month can make a difference.

P&N Bank community partner, Lifeline WA shares some insights into the positive impact volunteering can have for mental health and the community.

What are the benefits?

A UK study published in 2020, showed that people who had volunteered in the previous year rated their health and their life satisfaction higher, compared to those who didn’t volunteer. Volunteering was also linked to fewer mental health problems, and those who volunteered at least once per month had mental health improvements.

‘Purposeful activity’ is one of the four key areas that contributes towards a meaningful life and improved mental health, as highlighted on the Department of Health’s ‘Head to Health’ website. By creating improved social connections and a sense of purpose, volunteering provides a sense of belonging and can stimulate both mental and physical wellbeing. Social connections made through volunteer positions are often lifelong and additional skills picked up through volunteer roles can help with employment and career progression.

A firsthand experience from a Lifeline WA Telephone Crisis Supporter

“Volunteering for an organisation supporting people experiencing homelessness was initially a scary prospect due to the uncertainty of communicating with people from very different backgrounds to my own. After my first shift, which was only two hours, I honestly left there with a huge grin on my face, it was so rewarding. Over time, I felt more confident to chat to everyone within the centre. After five years, I changed jobs and started looking for other volunteering opportunities close to my new work. I now regularly volunteer for Lifeline WA and also help out with training programs for a community organisation supporting homelessness. As well as a sense of purpose and belonging, the skills I’ve learnt in my different volunteer roles have helped me at work. I feel like I can talk to anyone at any level about just about anything now!”

Where do you start?

It’s important to look for a volunteer role that works for you. Making a regular time commitment is key, and this can be as little as a few hours per week or month.

Remembering even once per month has benefits for your mental health. State volunteering organisations such as Volunteering WA are a great place to start searching for volunteer opportunities close to you. Stepping out of your comfort zone and adding something else to your schedule may seem like a daunting prospect at first but committing to a volunteer role will bring many benefits to your community and importantly, to your mental health.

Source: Lifeline WA

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