I believe that volunteering has a favourable effect on depression, wellbeing and one’s overall life satisfaction. I can say this from experience.
There is something so humbling of your own situation, when you take a step out of your own comfort zone to help someone less fortunate.
Did you know that our Prime Minister, in the past, pledged to tackle the stigma attached to depression? Globally, it is estimated that about 300 million people suffer with depression, making it the world’s largest cause of mental disability. What goes hand in hand with depression? Anxiety. Around the same number of those with depression, have some kind of anxiety disorder. I often wonder what is being done to help those who are mentally unwell. Anti-depressants are too often prescribed and a long waiting lists exist for talking therapy or to see a psychiatrist. What can the community do to help those in need with mental health issues?
I truly believe and know from personal experience, that volunteering to help others less fortunate will boost the mental health of the sufferer. The ‘do good’, ‘feel good’ feelings come as a result of helping others; especially when using your time, love and compassion for the greater good of someone else. Giving back to others, when in your darkest hour with no hope of your own, saves lives! Instantaneously you are automatically pushed to step out of your own mental imprisonment, if only for the short time that you are volunteering. It helps you to forget your own self, to focus on the ‘external’ you and to see a glimmer of the ‘old’ you before the depression set in.
How volunteering can help
Evidence shows that volunteering can be very beneficial to one’s mental health. Volunteering is a meaningful act and perhaps therefore the key to adding a sense of purpose to another’s life. Volunteering is also important for the social interaction that it offers the sufferer of mental health issues. Group activities that offer conviviality are likely then to see the most benefits. Giving meaning to someone’s life is backed up by some research carried out, as a study, by the American Psychological Association. They showed that to see an improvement in health; the volunteers must be altruistically motivated.
In short, volunteering generally improves the mental health of anyone who does it, especially amongst the older people who may on a daily basis be more isolated. The death of a long-standing partner, a lack of family and feelings of being alone need to be addressed. However, volunteering is a step in the right direction to help keep the ‘black dog’ of depression at bay!
If any of this resonated with you and you feel you need help to manage your depression and anxiety, and would like to do it ‘pill’ free, then please contact me for a non-obligations coffee and chat. Show yourself the love you deserve, ‘step out’ and ask to meet with me, so I can show you how to help heal yourself.