We all want to belong, be seen, and feel connected to a sense of purpose – it’s human nature. Getting involved in your community is a great way to do all three, with a multitude of benefits to your mental health and well-being. But figuring out how can feel like a challenge. Where do you start? Is that flier you saw in the grocery store legitimate? Does it apply to you?
Here’s a playbook for exploring options for community organizations and volunteer opportunities that can foster a sense of community and increase your mental health.
- Volunteer — You might have a cause you truly believe in. Most likely, there is a local or national organization supporting the same thing. Whether it’s a sport, hobby, or anything between – reach out to see if there are ways you can give your time, talent or treasure.
- Arts & Culture — Maybe you have a creative streak or an appreciation for music, food, and/or culture. Your community might have some surprising institutions (art museums, performance halls, jam sessions, etc.) to explore and get involved with.
- Athletics & Recreation — If you like a bit of competition or want to take care of your health and well-being, you’re sure to find a variety of places to explore sporting events, recreation classes, intramural teams, or a state or national park to make you feel whole and connected.
- Take a class — Maybe you have always wanted to learn about a new topic. Or possibly you want to increase your skills for a particular hobby. Your local community might offer classes to enrich your experience while getting connected – whether it be on a campus, a local community college, or cooking class at a local spice shop. Also, think outside the box, there’s fly tying classes, white water rescue certifications, and countless others.
- Be Neighborly — You know those random people you live next to – yeah them. Reaching out and connecting with your neighbors is an easy way to get involved in your community. You might not have everything in common, but you do have one thing – living in the same place – which inevitably leads to some points of connection.
- Faith — Church and faith traditions are great ways to feel connected and give back. There are also many faith based organizations and/or events that are agnostic and welcoming of difficult faiths.
- Schools — In addition to supporting your local community with your tax dollars, you can consider giving your time. Volunteer for a school program, serve on an advisory board, or cheer on the sport teams.
- Mentor — Another way to get involved and give back is to mentor. Your insights and wisdom can go a long way in the development of others while serving as a connecting point for you and your community.
- Much, Much More — Can you think of something else? Don’t let this list be a limit — seek out what matters most to you! Who knows, you might just create the next best thing that others are seeking, too.
Don’t know where to start, here’s some quick steps:
- Research 3-5 options that interest you.
- Find out how you can get involved. Do you have to apply? Can you just show-up to a meeting? Do meetings fit within your schedule?
- After doing this research, make contact with 2-3 of these organizations. Ask a question or see when their next meeting is. Showing your interest and forming even a virtual connection before the first meeting can go a long way in decreasing anxiety, as someone will be expecting you and able to help with the in’s and out’s of your first time there.
- Check to see if a friend, family member, or colleague might want to join you. Having someone else you know well can make connecting to your community much less intimidating.
- Attend with an open mind and attitude to new experiences!
The most important aspect of getting involved is knowing what your values are and how you want to connect. With this awareness, you can explore with intention and gain countless benefits for yourself and the community.
*If you or someone you care about is struggling with mental health, we can help. Contact us at Diversus Health to request an appointment with our mental health providers. If you need immediate assistance, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, or text ‘TALK’ to 38255.