Overdoing voluntary work could be bad for you

October 8th, 2008 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 8 (IANS) Doing voluntary work is good for you, but too much of a good thing can be bad, says a new study.For instance, those volunteering more than 15 hours a week showed a sharp decrease in their satisfaction with life and emotional health, according to an Australian National University (ANU) researcher.

Tim Windsor from the ANU Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR) said the findings of his study - which looked at 1,000 volunteers in their 60s - showed the value of taking part in moderate levels of volunteering, according to an ANU release.

Speaking during Mental Health Week, Windsor said “the study found that those who volunteer at a moderate level - between around two and 15 hours per week - show high levels of well being compared with non-volunteers. It appears to have a really positive effect.

“However, with those who volunteer for more than 15 hours a week the pattern of results is quite distinct. Those people showed lower levels of mental health and well being.

“The findings indicate that we need to make sure that volunteers aren’t being over-burdened. Adequate government and community support of the volunteer sector is important to ensure that the burden of responsibility doesn’t fall to just a few, but is shared by many.”

The study used data collected from the ANU PATH Through Life Project, which began in 1999 with 7,500 participants from Canberra and Queanbeyan. Every three years the participants are interviewed about a range of subjects and their responses are building a broad picture of the mental health of the region.

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