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How Community Service Can Improve Your Mental Health During the Pandemic

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This is Al Waller, your host for ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth. About 1 in 3 Americans have experienced high levels of psychological distress during the pandemic, according to a Pew Research Report. Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute, here to discuss how community service can help improve your mental health during the pandemic.

  

COVID-19 has caused many people to experience negative feelings this past year. How can community service play a role in alleviating these mental health struggles?

Mihaela: Social distancing has caused many of us feel deprived of our outlets that we normally use to maintain our sense of purpose and connection. Well, engaging in community service during this time can help us to fulfill both our desire to do something meaningful, as well as our desire to connect with others. It’s no wonder that the Journal of Happiness Studies reports that those who volunteer experience boosts to their mental health and wellbeing.

Al: Helping others while also helping yourself - that definitely sounds like an appealing way to spend your time! How can we safely become involved in community service without risking the spread of COVID-19?

Mihaela: That’s a great question- there are actually many ways to volunteer while remaining socially distanced. Online volunteering is a great way to provide support to various organizations or causes from the safety of your home. For example, the HearMe app trains online volunteers to provide mental health support to users through a text-based chat. To browse more options, visit volunteer.maryland.gov/resources.

Al: That sounds like a great option, especially since we’ve all become experts of online communication this past year! How else can you engage in COVID-19 safe 2 community service?

Mihaela: Another option is to support local organizations, such as food banks or homeless shelters, by organizing a supply drive. It is best to do some research beforehand to see what they are most in need of, whether it is canned goods, clothing, gift cards, hygiene supplies… This can be done safely by designating an outdoor drop-off location and posting about it online.

Al: This is a great idea, especially since the pandemic has had a harsh impact on so many local organizations. Now for anyone who may struggle to find an organization to formally volunteer with, what other options for community service can they try instead?

Mihaela: There are so many ways to help others and support your community. If you’re struggling to find a volunteer opportunity, you can create your own! It can be as simple as writing letters to residents of a local nursing home or cleaning up litter at a nearby park. Any helpful service can have a great impact on the wellbeing of your community, and your own mental health.

Al: Thank you for sharing these great tips about how to improve your own wellbeing while supporting your community. Any final thoughts you would like to share with the listeners?

Mihaela: Community service can be a great way to boost your wellbeing, however, if you are experiencing mental health issues, it is best to seek professional help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a great place to find resources for support.

Al: Thank you again for joining us, Mihaela. Mihaela: Thank you for having me!

Al: This has been another episode of ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth. I’m your host Al Waller – thanks for listening

Al Waller is a long time native of the Baltimore area. He entered the field of Human Resources Management starting as an HR Generalist with PwC (Pricewaterhouse-Coopers). This marked the beginning of a 30 year career that advanced into the management level for locally and globally based corporations. His primary area of expertise has focused on but not limited to: Talent Acquisition /Retention, Employee Relations as well as Training & Development.