Mental health has been one of the big themes in our conversations with village professionals this year. When you consider the year we’ve had, it’s hardly surprising.
Time and time again village professionals have expressed concerns about the mental health of members of their communities, and this has made us think about our own experiences in villages.
For us, the happiest people in villages were always those with a sense of purpose.
This can come in many forms, be it caring for a pet, managing a communal veggie patch, participating in a club or even helping out a neighbour.
But another route that is often overlooked is volunteering.
Volunteering linked to mental health
In the July 2020 issue of Greater Good Magazine, Elizabeth Hooper identified a link between volunteering and mental health.
“New research suggests that volunteers aren’t just helping the communities they serve. People who volunteer actually experience a boost in their mental health,” she said.
While there are some initiatives that can’t be undertaken during a pandemic, many organisations are offering opportunities to volunteer remotely from home.
And these are perfect for staff or residents who could use a pick-me-up!
Friends For Good offers friendly ear to listen
A great example we’ve recently become aware of is the Friends for Good program.
Friends for Good is a Not For Profit driven by volunteer to help fight loneliness with a FriendLine, which is basically a phone line anyway can call for a chat.
This is a great option for villages – not just for potentially lonely residents, but for staff members who’d like to volunteer their time to help someone in need.
You can learn more about Friends for Good here.
Staying busy, finding purpose
A busy village is a happy village.
In our experience that has proven so very true.
If you have a resident or staff member looking a little lost and lonely our advice would be reach out, discover their interests and suggest they get involved in something they enjoy.
Volunteering isn’t the solution to every problem – but it can be a great way to find joy and a sense of purpose in these challenging times.