26 Apr Helping People, Helping You.
We are all conscious of how important it is to look after our mental and emotional wellbeing. You only need to scroll through your newsfeed to be bombarded with tips on meditation – motivation – exhalation. But did you know that volunteering has been found to improve self-assessed mental wellbeing, self-esteem, happiness, and satisfaction with life?[i]
At RMHC WA volunteers are what makes our house a home and with a Blue Army of over 400, we talk to self-confessed jack of all volunteering trades Adrian, to find out what motivates him to help not only WA families with sick or injured kids but also himself.
As a part– time university student Adrian was looking for ways to broaden his horizons and find a sense of connection outside of his uni mates, class schedules and lecture theatres.
“What drove me to start volunteering was the desire to join a community outside of university and develop soft skills outside of a university setting.” Adrian says.
Research shows that even just a few hours of volunteering can help to improve your mood and outlook while regular volunteering is associated with better overall mental health. The experience of helping others can give you a greater sense of self-worth, a social role and improved health.[ii]
It can be nerve racking venturing out of your comfort zone however for Adrian it was the gentle nudge from his girlfriend that got him across the line. Once joining RMHC WA’s Blue Army in April 2022 as a Family Ambassador, he quickly found that taking the plunge and donning the blue shirt wasn’t as scary as he once thought.
“I have actually met people at university, and it turns out that they already volunteer at RMHC WA, so it becomes an ice breaker having RMHC WA in common.”
He soon learnt that RMHC WA’s Blue Army is breaming with volunteers aged 18 to 34, in fact they make up 30% of the total volunteering team.
For Adrian learning new skills is important and studies show that learning new things can have a beneficial effect on healthy brain function[iii]. With over 12 different roles available at RMHC WA, ranging from Paw Pals, Movie Mates to Fabbie Cabbies, Adrian hasn’t been short of learning a new skill or two.
“My official title is Family Ambassador, but I do pick up some jobs from Fabbie Cabbie or Green team when needed. Being a jack of all trades, I get to experience all the best, from making cappuccinos and pancakes to bringing new life into the garden or making a quick stop at the post office. Becoming involved and dipping my toes into all the different roles has given me a deeper appreciation of the broad range of projects run by RMHC WA while expanding my skill set.”
Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people from all walks of life, which can help elevate stress by feeling more connected and valued[iv].
“I love having morning tea times with the other volunteers because you do really form a community with them as everyone shares the innate desire to offer their time to volunteer and it doesn’t hurt when someone brings some homemade desserts to have with the coffee.”
Yes, volunteering can be meaningful and fun, but it can also be a great tool to add to your mental and emotional wellbeing toolbox. Just take it from Adrian,
“No matter how stressful the week has been, I can put all of it to one side for a couple of hours and enjoy volunteering, it’s like a little escape from uni and work.”
RMHC WA is so much more than home away from home for WA families with sick or injured kids and its programs like our Blue Army that extend beyond the four walls to help WA families whose lives have been disrupted by illness or injury.