June 9th, 2012 by Mental Health Foundation
The UK charity, Mental Health Foundation, has published its Doing Good? report.
The report highlights the impact that helping others has on people’s mental health and well-being, following a public attitude survey which showed that people believe society has become more selfish.
The UK faces challenging and unstable times with volatile economic markets and job uncertainty. Many people say they feel too stressed and busy to worry about helping others or say they will focus on doing good deeds when they have more ‘spare time’ but the evidence shows that helping others is beneficial for people’s mental health and well-being.
The Mental Health Foundation commissioned YouGov to carry out a survey in order to understand people’s attitudes.
The charity asked participants if they felt people were doing enough to help others compared to ten years ago and how often they carried out acts of kindness for others.
The survey revealed that 67% of participants thought that people were less likely to go out of their way to be kind to a stranger compared to ten years ago and 76% felt that people were more selfish and materialistic than they were 10 years ago.
However, according to the poll, 80% of people agreed that being kind to others can have a positive effect on people’s health and 87% said that they felt good when they carry out an act of kindness for someone.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said “although it’s worrying that people feel society has become more selfish, our research also showed that the majority of people agree that being kind to others can have a positive effect on their own health and that they feel good when they carry out an act of kindness for someone.”
“Many people engage in volunteering, mentoring and small acts of kindness, such as letting someone in front of them in a queue, holding the door open for a stranger and giving up their seat on public transport.”
With this in mind, during Mental Health Awareness Week we called for the public to carry out more acts of kindness to improve their own mental well-being and that of the UK. They don’t need to be big things, cost a lot of money,or be time consuming.”
“To help the nation get started, the Mental Health Foundatione produced a handy pocket guide filled with useful ideas and tips for making helping others part of daily life,” he said.
Dr Dan Robotham, the lead author of the report said “Churchill once said, we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
“Scientific evidence shows that helping others has benefits for our mental and physical health. It promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness, can bring a sense of purpose and reduce isolation, can help get rid of negative feelings such as anger, aggression or hostility, and may even help us live longer,” he said.
In order to help the nation do more good deeds, the Mental Health Foundation has made the following recommendations:
The survey interviewed 2037 people, of which 1048 were female. Of the people interviewed 67% either strongly agreed or agreed that “people are less likely to go out of their way to be kind or do something helpful for a stranger now compared to ten years ago.”
Of the respondents, 80% either strongly agreed or agreed that “being kind to other people can have a positive effect on ones own health.”
When carrying out an act of kindness 87% of the respondents said it made them feel good.
Regrettably 76% of the survey respondents thought that “people in society are not more selfish and materialistic than they were ten years ago.”