Wednesday 6 June 2018

Volunteering and Mental Health

Emily celebrates volunteering week by sharing how taking part can be beneficial to our mental and emotional health and wellbeing. 
- Emily

Each year, Volunteers’ Week is celebrated nationally from the 1st until the 7th of June. It aims to recognise and to celebrate those who give their time freely to a cause that they are passionate about. Volunteering as a university student can come in many forms – charity shop work, blogging, working with young children or older people in the wider community, social media volunteering… the list is endless. Volunteering isn’t a one-way street and there are lots of benefits for the volunteer. Aside from being a real opportunity to use existing skills, as well as to develop new skills, volunteering is a brilliant chance to boost your CV and gain work experience whilst at university. However, volunteering is also extremely beneficial to our mental and emotional health and wellbeing.

Here are some reasons as to why and how this is:

  • Volunteering helps to reduce depression – it is a way to increase social interaction. Depression can be a lonely and isolating experience, but volunteering is a way to counteract this and to build a support system.
  • It also reduces stress levels – there is no doubt that university is extremely stressful at times. Volunteering gives you a real sense of meaning and appreciation, which thus helps you to feel calmer.
  • Volunteering helps to keep things in perspective – volunteering to help people who are less fortunate than yourself can give you a different outlook on life and help you to view your own life with a more positive mind set.
  • It makes the world a happier place in which to live – acts of kindness undertaken through volunteering have a real potential to make the world a much happier and nicer place. It encourages others to do good deeds, which therefore leads to a more positive community.
  • Doing more for others means that you are doing more for yourself – this might sound a little complicated, but it isn’t. By volunteering, giving your time and doing good things for other people, you’re also doing something for yourself too. Volunteering helps you to build up a ‘kindness bank’ so to speak of special memories that can be reflected on positively in the future. 

Being a volunteer myself, I can assure others that these are true benefits of volunteering, and that this list is certainly not exhaustive of the many more benefits that volunteering can have on mental health. I really enjoy volunteering – it makes me feel as though I am doing something worthwhile and positive for things that I strongly believe in and am passionate about.

I would definitely recommend that students get involved with volunteering during their time at university.

“The greatest gift you can give someone is your time because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.” 

My name is Emily (Em). I am currently in my final year studying Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting at Swansea University, where I'm also the Creative Writing Section Editor and Deputy Editor for The Waterfront - Swansea's student newspaper. I wanted to write for Student Minds because I have experienced depression and anxiety as well as other health issues, and I support friends who have also experienced mental health difficulties. I am also a passionate writer and writing has been important in my mental health experiences - both in helping me to cope with my mental health, as well as sharing my story in order to help others.

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