How Volunteering Can Improve Your Mental Health

Evidence points to around a 20 percent reduction in mortality among volunteers compared to non-volunteers in cohort studies.

What's the Latest Development?

Researchers at England's University of Exeter have found that volunteering is associated with increased longevity and improved mental health, based on self-assesments and observational data. "Some observational evidence points to around a 20 percent reduction in mortality among volunteers compared to non-volunteers in cohort studies. Volunteers also reported lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being, although the findings have yet to be confirmed in trials." Worldwide, the prevalence of adult volunteering varies with estimates of 22.5 percent in Europe, 36 percent in Australia, and 27 percent in the USA.

What's the Big Idea?

Whether volunteering is the cause of longer life, or whether biological and cultural factors that are associated with better health and survival are also associated with a willingness to volunteer, remains an open question. Researchers theorize that the physical benefits of volunteering "could be explained by the fact that volunteers spend more time out of the house." The relationship between volunteering and mental health is more complex, requiring that those who wish to benefit find an appropriate balance, as volunteering too much can make a cheerful habit a burden of its own.

Photo credit:

Read it at Science Daily

Related Articles

To save us, half of Earth needs to be given to animals

We're more dependent on them than we realize.

(Photo Lily on Unsplash)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists says our survival depends on biodiversity.
  • A natural climate strategy we often forget.
  • Seeing our place among the Earth's living creatures.
Keep reading Show less

New infographics show how cigarette smokers are socially penalized

There's a high social cost that comes with lighting up.

Sex & Relationships
  • The home improvement company Porch recently polled 1,009 people on their feelings about smoking.
  • The company recently published the results as infographics.
  • In terms of dating, 80 percent of nonsmokers find the habit a turnoff
Keep reading Show less

The "catch" to being on the keto diet

While short-term results are positive, there is mounting evidence against staying in ketosis for too long.

Brendan Hoffman / Getty
Surprising Science
  • Recent studies showed volunteers lost equal or more weight on high-carb, calorie-restricted diets than low-carb, calorie restricted diets.
  • There might be positive benefits to short-term usage of a ketogenic diet.
  • One dietician warns that the ketogenic diet could put diabetics at risk for diabetic ketoacidosis.
Keep reading Show less