You have probably heard the saying “Sometimes the best way to solve your own problems is to help someone else”, or some variation of it. In mental health, one of the most common hardships people encounter is lack of self-worth, which is often effectively counteracted by helping others. We know how difficult life is right now, with all the turmoil, anger, and fear surrounding us, and we know that it’s easy to feel there is nothing you can do to help. Today we want to share with you 6 ways you can help the people in your life and community.
According to a study done in 2018, almost half of the elderly population in the United States reported feeling lonely. During times of decreased socialization and mobility, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, this number is rapidly increasing. Loneliness and lack of support is one of the most applicable factors in balanced mental health, and as more of the world feels alone, overall mental health has plummeted. DoSomething.org, a website for volunteer opportunities, offers a specific campaign for talking with elderly individuals to help combat loneliness and mental illness in the older population as well as help isolated individuals across the globe feel less lonely.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) works tirelessly to destigmatize and raise money for mental illness research across the United States. You can help by hosting a fundraiser, helping build corporate partnerships, taking the StigmaFree pledge, or even by simply sharing their message on social media.
Cancer patients and survivors have a higher probability to suffer serious effects from the COVID-19 virus. Due to this, many of them are quarantining from their friends, family, and even household members. These patients are at higher risk for depression and anxiety, and in some cases, may need additional help getting to and from appointments. The American Cancer Society is looking for volunteers to contact these patients to see how they are doing, and if they need any additional help. Training is required but is provided at no cost.
Many non-profit organizations are looking for volunteers to write, blog, fundraise, or sometimes even help with web or graphic design. One example of these non-profits is onebread.org, an organization that works to raise money to rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking, and is currently looking for writers. To find more opportunities, you can visit VolunteerMatch.org.
Animals are surrendered every day of the year to animal shelters across the country, but especially during times of financial hardship. The more socialized and healthy these animals are, the more likely they are to be adopted by a new family. Adoptapet.com offers a search feature to find shelters near you, and if you want to foster an animal, you can find shelters looking for foster homes here. As an added benefit, spending time with animals has been shown to help decrease some of the affects of depression and anxiety!
Especially during times of stress and decreased income, food pantries become a crucial help to communities. Unfortunately, during those same times, volunteers become less available and donations become scarce. There are thousands of food pantries nationwide, and they are always accepting volunteers and donations. Many pantries also provide other essential items such as shampoo, soap, and hygiene items. Contact a food bank near you to find out the needs in your area and how you can help.
Please keep in mind that these are not just ways to help others, but a way to remind yourself of your value in a world that can feel oppressive and demeaning. You matter, and you absolutely deserve to feel worthy of life and love. Since this is for you as well as others, make sure to keep in mind what sounds most enjoyable and matters most to you. If you decide to do something not on this list, let us know what you found in the comments below!