“My life changed when I made a decision to stop being challenged by the idea of having a mental illness, and became a mental health advocate and educator, visiting high school classes. That was another major step in terms of recovering and rebuilding my life in a satisfying way.”
If you have yet to experience volunteering, you may wonder how and why it can be rewarding. There are quite a few reasons.
Volunteering helps you develop stronger social networks and friendships. It can help you become more active, mentally and physically. It can even contribute to getting better sleep. Some people find that volunteering helps them experience less stress and anxiety.
You can pick up new skills and knowledge by volunteering. It can also improve your employability – if that's something you are looking to do. You can volunteer for as much or as little time as you like – from just a few hours every now and then to a full-time commitment.
Whatever you are interested in, you can probably find an organisation in your community that would love to have your help. Volunteering your time and effort can be a great way to add purpose and meaning to your life.
We also have pages on other purposeful activities like work, hobbies, and getting involved.
A closer look
Volunteers contribute to the country
Volunteering is worth more to the Australian economy than the mining industry! In fact, volunteers contribute more than $200 billion annually. Over 6 million Australians volunteer their services to help good causes or other people in need. That works out to about 36% of the adult population of Australia. (Source)
A little volunteering goes a long way
Just a few hours of volunteer work can improve your mood and outlook, while regular volunteering is associated with better overall mental health. The experience of helping others can give people a greater sense of self-worth, a social role, and improved health. (Source)
Volunteering is a practical way to learn new skills
Many volunteer positions will ask new things of you, and you get to learn these things from people who have similar interests to yourself while you’re on the job. There is a significant body of research that shows that learning new things has a very beneficial effect on brain function as well as cognitive decline due to ageing. (Source)
Volunteering tends to run in families
70% of volunteers reported that at least one of their parents also has experience with volunteering. So if you have never done any volunteering before, maybe you can be the first person in your family to break new ground, and set an example for others to follow! (Source)
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).