Volunteering Keeps Mental Health in Check

Helping others can improve your health: a photo of people holding hands
by SalvationArmy.ca

“I spend a lot of time stacking shelves at the food bank,” says Eileen. “I know that my work helps others but it also benefits me.”

Eileen had worked as a social worker for 35 years when she was diagnosed with cancer. “When I was ill I had too much time to sit and think, which put me in a bad place with depression and anxiety,” says Eileen.

Eileen’s cancer treatment involved surgery, chemo and radiation. When she felt better and, after she retired, she volunteered at The Salvation Army in Clarenville, N.F. Eileen helped stock shelves at the food bank, handled applications for the Christmas hamper program and served hungry people at the soup kitchen. Volunteering has made Eileen feel she is making a difference, but she says it has improved her mental health.

“The physical activity of volunteering helps me sleep better at night. And a good night’s rest helps me better manage my anxiety,” say Eileen. “I also find that when I’m occupied and busy, my mental health issues are less prominent.”

Eileen has also been able to use skills from her previous job in her volunteer roles. “My community connections help me advocate for people such as the addicted and homeless in terms of resources and referrals,” says Eileen. “I’ve been designated the unofficial social worker,” she chuckles.

For more information on volunteering with The Salvation Army, click here.