The value of volunteering
Posted Monday 1 February 2010
For people with mental health problems, isolation and loneliness can become an ever present problem, leading to a reduction in their wellbeing. Ninety per cent of respondents to a survey by Welsh mental health charity Hafal said that loneliness makes the symptoms of their severe mental illness worse - depression in particular.
This is certainly the case for me. After many years of mental ill health, I felt separate from people my own age because I was not working or studying. I’m sure there are many people around the UK who face being alone for many long hours during the day.
Mind Cymru has a group of volunteers who work in their Cardiff office, supporting the work of staff. I joined them over a year ago and have never looked back.
As well as gaining office work experience, I have greater confidence and higher self-esteem from meeting new people, having somewhere to go and feeling that the work you are doing is useful, bringing the sense that your life has a purpose.
Beating loneliness and isolation is just as important to the recovery of people with mental health problems as treatments such as medication and talking therapies.
Volunteering of any kind not only helps the organisation you are working with, but brings the possibility of new social contacts and a new way of relating to the world. Go for it!
Katherine Dutson, volunteer, Mind Cymru
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