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Volunteering in middle age linked to better mental health

The positive association between volunteering and good mental health is apparent from around age 40 and continues into old age, say researchers. 

Volunteering in middle and older age is linked to good mental health and emotional wellbeing, say researchers from the universities of Southampton and Birmingham.

Volunteering is associated with good mental health. Photo: Alamy

Using the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), which ran every year from 1991 to 2008, the researchers studied adults living in 5,000 UK households, looking at the frequency of formal volunteering from at least once a week to once a year or less, or never.

The study gathered a total of 66,343 responses for 1996 and every two years up until 2008. One in five respondents said they had volunteered, with women more likely to volunteer than men. Almost a quarter of those aged 60 to 74 said they volunteered, dropping to 17% among the youngest age group.

Mental health and emotional wellbeing were assessed using a 12-item general


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