Each year during the third week of April (this year it’s April 21-27), we celebrate National Volunteer Week. Volunteerism is a wonderful way of giving back to your community by doing for others with no expectations of any compensation in return. Volunteering is also a great way to build connections with others, whether you volunteer weekly, monthly or yearly — because the truth is, nonprofit organizations cannot fulfill their mission and achieve their goals without volunteers. It’s an important action we can take to care for others, the Earth and each other.

Volunteering can have far-reaching impacts on the world around you, as well as on your own health. Volunteerism has been proven to positively impact the volunteer in a number of ways, including:

  • Reduced stress:
    Having a cause to focus on can help counteract the effects of stress, depression and anxiety. The social aspect of volunteerism can help you feel connected and concentrate on the task at hand, rather than outside stressors.
  • Boost in confidence:
    Volunteering provides a unique opportunity to develop confidence and self-esteem, since your role as a volunteer can give you a sense of pride and identity. You can also gain new skills and see yourself in a new light.
  • Sense of purpose:
    Dedicating your time to an organization can give you a new sense of direction and a boost of energy, knowing that your contribution is necessary and valuable.
  • Increased happiness:
    Research shows that “feel good” hormones and brain activity spike when volunteering. It’s impossible to NOT make an impact when volunteering — and that knowledge leads to happiness, as most humans naturally enjoy serving others.
You may work closely with volunteers in the behavioral healthcare field, and you may already lend your time or talents to a nonprofit. Volunteering together is also a great way to build morale at work or stay connected with friends. If you’re wanting to participate but unsure how to find an organization with a mission you’d like to support, there are a number of websites that are geared toward helping people “match” with organizations with volunteer opportunities available. Check out www.volunteermatch.org or https://www.dosomething.org/us to get started on your volunteer journey.

National Volunteer Week: Ways to Participate