The Impact of Volunteering on Mental Health

Written by Queenie Huang

Posted May 10, 2024

It has been regarded that volunteering has many physical health benefits, however, it also particularly has mental health benefits for an individual. Volunteering not only enriches the communities it serves but also significantly boosts the mental health of the volunteers themselves. This blog explores how acts of volunteering contribute to emotional fulfillment, from increasing happiness and satisfaction to reducing depression and stress levels.

1. Boosts Happiness and Satisfaction

Volunteering increases the levels of dopamine in your brain, often referred to as the 'helper's high.' Engaging in acts of kindness and helping others can trigger this positive feeling, leading to higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction. According to Volunteer Ireland report, individuals who engage in voluntary activities report enhanced mood and higher self-esteem.

2. Reduces Risk of Depression

Regular interaction and socialisation while volunteering helps combat loneliness and depression, especially among older adults. By staying socially active and feeling connected to a community, volunteers can maintain a positive mental state, thus reducing feelings of isolation and depression.

3. Lowers Stress Levels

Engaging in volunteer work can lead to lower levels of stress. The act of helping others diverts attention away from one’s own problems and leads to a distinct reduction in negative stressful feelings. This is linked to the physical activity that is often involved in volunteering, which can have a stress-reducing effect.

4. Improves Emotional Wellbeing

Volunteering helps in cultivating empathetic relationships and better emotional well-being for an individual. The social aspect of helping and working with others can create a sense of community and emotional connection to one’s life, enhancing both emotional and mental health.

5. Encourages Psychological Growth

Volunteering can push individuals out of their comfort zones and help them acquire new skills and experiences. This type of growth is associated with increased mental resilience and adaptability, crucial traits for psychological health. Volunteers often experience feelings of accomplishment and purpose when they volunteer, which contributes significantly to personal growth and psychological well-being.

6. Nurtures new and existing Relationships

Volunteering can have an impact on relationships as it increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common interests. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to participate in a common activity, according to the Mayo Health Clinic, many volunteers who come from diverse backgrounds volunteer to help them practice social skills with others and improve their social network.