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Mental health benefits of volunteering

Volunteering has many surprising benefits. It can help you learn new things, develop a strong network, advance your career, and yes—even make you feel happier and healthier.

According to, volunteering has four key benefits that help support mental health. I adapted them to include some of my own findings:

  1. Connection with others: Volunteering facilitates meeting new people and expanding on current relationships. That connection combats isolation and the feeling of being alone. Volunteering is also a key element required to build community and, therefore, a sense of belonging.
  2. Physical and emotional health: Social contact during volunteer opportunities helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. Volunteering in team environments also helps develop new friendships, and a solid support system.

Often, volunteering also requires a degree of physical labour and/or exercise, which supports both the health of the mind and the body.

  1. Skill development and purpose: Developing new, and practicing existing, skills increases self-confidence and can create feelings of competence, satisfaction, and accomplishment. Expanding and using our skillset can support positive self-talk and help us feel like we have a purpose (and that we are achieving that purpose).
  2. Fun: It’s important to have fun! Volunteering can be an escape from your daily routine and a chance to recharge, or it can be a complement to your academic and career pursuits. Often volunteering can be a way to program the things you enjoy into your life. For example, if you love sports and teaching, you can volunteer to coach children’s sports so that you get to fulfill both of those passions with one weekly activity.

So make sure to incorporate some kind of volunteering into your life. Meet new people, develop new skills, create positive change, and support your health.

Maggie Stewart
VOLT Coordinator, Office for Student Engagement

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