According to researchers, volunteering improves your mental health. It’s not only a good way to help those in need, but it also brings a lot of benefits to our well-being.
Researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Birmingham mentioned that the effects are not as relevant for those under 40 years old, suggesting that connections were more efficient at later points in a person’s life.
During the study, the responses of more than 66,000 adults in the UK were analyzed. The survey from 1991-2008 was inquiring about volunteering and leisure time activities.
The researchers wanted to find out whether participants engaged in volunteering activities at least once o month, several times a year or never. Members were also asked questions meant to measure their well-being and mental health. More than 21 percent of the respondents said that they had tried some formal volunteering activity.
Following the responses, it has been concluded that women tend to volunteer more than men.
The indicator of mental health/emotional well-being also known as GHQ-12 was the best (lowest) among people who regularly volunteered and the worst (highest) among those who have never volunteered.
Previous research proved that volunteering at an older age is linked to a better physical and mental health, but it was not clear until now if this also extends to other age groups. After taking account of other potentially influential factors, including educational attainment, marital status, and social class, the conclusions still held true.
Researchers found improvement in well-being and mental health on participants 40 years and older. Even the ones older than 80 felt the same benefits.
It has been proved that a sense of purpose is also given to those who volunteer. It applies in particular to people who are not working anymore but still want to socialize. Maintaining social networks is important for older individuals who are often socially isolated.
Although a direct link between volunteering and better mental health hasn’t been proved, researchers suggest that volunteering is more important as people get older, and called for higher efforts to convince people to give their time to others.
More studies must first be conducted to assume that volunteering has benefits for everyone, everywhere.
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