Volunteer Task Force (VTF) is an advocate for the principles of Act, Belong, Commit, a community-based health promotion campaign that encourages people to take action to improve their mental health and well being. It was developed primarily from research at Curtin University into people’s perceptions of mental health and the behaviours they believed to protect and promote good mental health. The campaign is directed by Mentally Healthy WA at Curtin University, and implemented through health services, local governments, women’s health services and not-for-profit groups.
As the brand name suggests, people can build positive mental health by being physically, mentally and socially active (Act); by being involved in family and community activities and participating in community events (Belong); and by taking on challenges or causes that give meaning and purpose in their lives (Commit).
There is substantial evidence that these three domains represent increasing levels of contribution to positive mental health (and, in fact, to physical health).
Volunteers have expressed their reasons and motivation to volunteer as well as the rewards and joy they receive in a number of areas:
- Social interaction
- Team spirit
- Doing something worthwhile
- Having a point to the day
- Making friends
- Giving something back to the community
- Learning new skills.
Many volunteers keep physically and mentally healthy through volunteering. Research shows that social interaction, team environment and acts of kindness can benefit the ‘giver’ immensely, triggering ‘feel good’ emotions and positive states of mind and mental health.
VTF works with mental health rehabilitation agencies. Many individuals find that taking part in volunteering has helped in the recovery of mental health issues. Many volunteers go on to find work. The volunteering structure often gives people the confidence, the structure and the interaction needed during rehabilitation. Many volunteers continue to volunteer past their ‘need to’ date. For example, Centrelink volunteers continue after their retirement and after their mutual obligation is over. This is because the volunteer opportunity brings ‘feel good’ rewards along with social opportunities and events.
See also Volunteer Recognition and Events.