“It's important for my mental health to walk the dog, go for a run, ring a friend, or do some crochet.”
Participation can have many benefits. Whether you want to be part of a specific group, help others achieve something, or just be an active spectator, there are many ways to get involved. For instance, attending local events, joining hobby or interest groups, or doing group physical exercise. It depends on your interests and your schedule.
Sometimes it can be challenging to take part in community activities. However, allowing yourself new experiences can take your mind off the pressures you might be dealing with, and can even enrich your life. Getting involved in community activities can help you build trusting relationships - so you feel safer, more accepted, and more closely connected with other like-minded people.
Many people enjoy getting involved in a purposeful activity because it is a way to improve their social life and sense of belonging. This extends to the workplace or place of education. Getting involved can help you feel more connected and develop a sense of purpose. It also opens up new possibilities.
Take a look at our pages on purposeful activity, hobbies, and volunteering for more ideas and information on getting involved.
A closer look
There is a strong link between mental health and social inclusion
Mental health depends more on participation in social and community life than on physical health. Having others you can talk to, depend on, trust in, and be familiar with, helps to manage and prevent mental illness. Supportive connections can also inspire healthier patterns of behaviour. Getting involved socially outside your home can be particularly beneficial if you are living alone. (Source)
7% of Australia's population are isolated or very isolated
According to a 2013 Red Cross report on feeling connected with others socially, over 1.5 million people in Australia feel isolated socially, or very isolated. A further 2 million people sometimes experience social isolation. Social isolation can lead to loneliness, whereas being connected with others can enhance quality of life, promote healthy ageing, and help you become more resilient to life’s challenges. (Source)
It may benefit you to remain involved in your working or studying commitments
While you may have concerns with stigma, discrimination, or a lack of understanding in the workplace about mental illness, acceptance is growing. In a 2010 workplace health report, 2 in 3 people who reported their mental illness to their employer found more support and understanding, and experienced less stress. Mental ill-health can affect your performance in work or study, so it is well worth trying to remain involved, or getting involved in something new. (Source)
Organised sports programs create a positive social environment
Taking part in regular group sports often helps to reduce distress, anxiety, and depression, and increases social functioning. 5.2 million Australian adults participate in organised sporting activities. Enjoyment, social belonging, and overall fitness are some of the main reasons people engage in sport. (Source)
It's definitely worth getting involved in online forums to find support. I've participated in a few, and they're great.
Being involved in a peer support group is terrific for my daughter. It's true that helping other people helps you feel better. She's got really involved in that, and has started doing a course in counselling now too.
I'm heavily involved in my local Indigenous community here in Gippsland. It's a strong community of Kurnai people. A community gives you structure and it helps you feel better by helping others too.
You might find online and phone-based mental health resources helpful. Some suggestions are below. You can find more with our Search tool (opens in a new tab).