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Volunteering linked to good mental health

Volunteering linked to good mental health

Volunteering in middle age and senior years is linked to enhanced mental health and emotional wellbeing, according to a recent study

Posted: 9 August 2016

The findings, published in BMJ Open, suggested that the link between volunteering and mental health may be stronger at certain points of life – as no positive association was seen before the age of 40. By way of an explanation of the findings, researchers have speculated that volunteering at younger ages may be viewed as an obligation, while social roles and family connections in middle age may encourage individuals to become involved in community activities. “Volunteering might provide those groups with greater opportunities for beneficial activities and social contacts, which in turn may have protective effects on health status…With the ageing of the population, it is imperative to develop effective health promotion for this last third of life, so that those living longer are healthier,” they wrote. Previous research indicates that people who volunteer are likely to have more resources, a larger social network, and more power and prestige, all of which have knock-on effects on physical and mental health, they point out. “Volunteering may also provide a sense of purpose, particularly for those people who have lost their earnings, because regular volunteering helps maintain social networks, which are especially important for older people who are often socially isolated,” they added.