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Published on January 09, 2018

A New Year’s Resolution with Extra Benefits: Help Yourself by Helping Others
volunteer for mental health

January is time for a fresh start. It's a new year and you're probably loaded with resolve to do as well as possible in 2018. Did you know that one of the best things you can do for yourself is to help others? Finding a cause and community really does bring its own benefits, including:

  • Decreasing symptoms of depression. Some 40 studies show that volunteering can decrease depression symptoms, and one survey of more than 3,000 volunteers showed that 94 percent of them reported an improved mood.
  • Making social connections improves physical health and psychological well-being. Social connection strengthens our immune systems; helps us recover from disease faster; and may even lengthen life. Conversely, studies have shown that a lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.

But where to start?

You can begin by recognizing that you don't need a particular skill set to become a volunteer. Rather, think about what causes you care most about and who you would feel most happy to support. Look online for organizations in your community that match your interests and then pick up the phone and call, or send an email to inquire about volunteer opportunities. Many nonprofit organizations need various types of help.

Still stumped? Look online at http://www.volunteerpartners.org/ which is specifically designed to help connect volunteers to organizations that need support in Lincoln. If you live outside of Lincoln go to https://www.volunteermatch.org.

If you think your mental health needs more than the benefits of volunteering, take our confidential mental health screening.

dave miers

About Dr. Dave Miers

Dave Miers, PhD, is the counseling and program development manager for mental health services at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Neb.

He helped establish the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition in 1999 and chaired/co-chaired this Coalition until 2017. He currently serves as the past co-chair. Dr. Miers is a member of the leadership group for the Lincoln/Lancaster County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Dr. Miers has published research and co-authored a chapter in the Routledge International Handbook of Clinical Suicide Research focusing on family survivors of a child suicide. Dr. Miers helped develop the Lincoln Lancaster Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team in Lincoln, Neb. He also helped develop other LOSS teams in Nebraska and is active with LOSS team development on a national level.

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