Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Register
Community Search
Do Great Things: Blog For Changing The World!
Blog Home All Blogs

How Volunteering Helped My Depression

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, June 4, 2018
 Volunteering with Depression
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

 

This blog tells the story of Bella Williams’ experience with depression—this may be triggering or cause an adverse reaction for some readers.

 

You might expect me to preach about the goodness of volunteering—about how and why to give back to your community—but that isn’t what this blog is about. More than doing good for society, I want to show you that volunteering will have a positive impact on you personally. It certainly did for me.

I was 33 and had lost my job after a fight with my boss. I was going to the occasional interview, without success, but pretty soon I ran out of money and had to move in into my parents’ house. The guy I was dating chose to leave me and I hardly ever met with my friends. I was usually fun-loving and talkative but I had become detached and resistant to conversation—probably out of apprehension of discussing my life updates. I wasn’t actually bothering people but I became very conscious to avoid other humans as much as possible. There wasn’t much I could look forward to back then. Months passed by like this and on a cold winter night someone finally told me that I might have depression.

It was only then I realized that depression was not a state of mind or something that could be controlled—I saw how powerfully my emotions took over every aspect of my life. It kept getting worse with time and I felt as if I was standing in quicksand—the more I tried to escape, the deeper I sunk. My mother took me to meet one of her friends who I knew had been depressed for a very long time. She had joined a volunteer community and asked if I was willing to spare some time to help. I couldn’t say no to such a good family friend, she had fed me too many cookies while I was growing up. Besides, I was convinced I would function so poorly that she would inevitably have to ask me to leave.

What exactly happened from that day on is too long a story to tell here. But writing here now I know that I’m doing much better, that I have survived the darkest phase of my life. At the very least, I’m able to laugh at my father’s jokes and hold beautiful conversations with strangers too. Here is how and why Volunteering helped me fight my depression: 

 

Making a commitment gave me responsibility and purpose.

Whether you’re volunteering once a month or once a day every small step matters. Committing to a cause that I seriously believed in made me accountable to other people that I knew I couldn’t take for granted—I was expected me to show up on time and perform to the best of my abilities. This accountability started making me feel more responsible and this new-found sense of responsibility was a green light—I began to see the world outside of myself. I became motivated to contribute more of my time, committing more deeply. Working at the grassroots level of the problem made see things more closely and helped me become a great volunteer.

 

A regular routine built my confidence and sense of accomplishment.

My volunteering provided a structure and regular routine to my life that, in turn, gave me a sense of purpose—something that was unusual for me during this phase of my life. Working with other people and seeing how effectively I was performing also started improving my self-confidence, I felt more sure of myself. People around me would appreciate my work, making me feel needed and happy.

Volunteering required regularly interacting with strangers, something that I wasn’t very comfortable with. I overcame my apprehension thanks to my increased confidence and the sense of the greater cause that I was working for and felt even better as a result.

The slightest of positive emotions played big roles during this phase of my life. The feeling I have when I’m working for the good of others is very different from the feeling I had when I was working for money.

 

I began managing myself and my emotions.

I knew that volunteering meant that there would be people around me on a regular basis. I started putting efforts into my presentation, putting my best self forward by starting to dress and speak well. Spending my time volunteering on a regular basis also gave me something meaningful to focus on, keeping my mind away from the negative thoughts I used to have. I felt myself becoming more patient and empathetic as a result.

Of course, I would still have bouts of emotions that brought tears to my eyes. But luckily for me, I had people who were helpful and gave me the space I needed. That meant a lot to me. I started to value human emotions more and worked harder to understand and manage my emotions around people. I don’t know about others but I believe that having a strong support system is what helped me most in fighting depression.

 

I know it’s easier said than done and I’m not saying that you’ll be able to address depression in a flash. I was determined and found a purpose to work for that I believed in—it took small baby steps, but I did come out through the tunnel successfully.

 

Tags:  How to start volunteering  Mental Health  Volunteer  Volunteering 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Volunteering with Mental Illness: 6 Tips to Get You Started

Posted By Lisa Robinson, January 24, 2018
Updated: January 23, 2018
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

 

As I write this, it’s blue Monday—the saddest day of the year. Winter weather and shorter days, especially in January, can have a drastic impact on our mood. Living with mental illness myself, I agree—this time of year is far from easy.

So what’s the good news?

It’s known that community can be an antidote for feeling low. And what better way to connect with others than through volunteering? However, finding a volunteer position can be overwhelming, especially if you’re already feeling down. Knowing this, I’ve put together six tips that can take your volunteer search from blah to yah!

 

Start by listing your skills

Hey you! Yes, you. You have skills, lots of them. So go ahead and write them down. What have you learned from your experiences? You’d be surprised at how valuable your skills are. Take a few minutes to reflect on what a great asset you’ll be as a volunteer.

Determine your intentions

Now that you know that you’ll be a valuable volunteer (see your list!) it’s time to think about what YOU want out of volunteering. Are there any skills you want to learn? A specific neighbourhood where you’d like to give back? Or a cause you feel inspired by? Your answers will help narrow down which roles to apply for. Remember, you should get just as much out of your volunteer experience as you put in. You deserve it!

Find the right fit

Volunteer roles are different everywhere you go. Some are really formal and require a big commitment. If you don’t feel ready, that’s okay! You can always explore other opportunities, there are hundreds of non-profits in the city! Find a volunteer role with expectations that motivate you, not overwhelm you. Not sure you’ve found a good fit? Ask to try out the role. You never know until you’ve given it a shot!

Share your intentions

Remember those intentions you created? Share them. Share them with someone in your social network. Share them with (potential) volunteer managers. By sharing these intentions you’ll get support. And hey, you might even find a volunteer manager that adapts a role for you.

Share your needs

Just as important is to share what your needs are. I’ve personally found it helpful to talk to my volunteer supervisor about living with mental illness. If nothing else, I don’t feel like I have to hide when I’m having a bad day. At best, they might work with you to determine how they can support you in your role. Remember, this is your information to share. Only share if you are comfortable.

Follow your gut

It’s important to listen to your gut feelings. Are you achieving what you intended to in a volunteer role? If not, then don’t do it. But don’t give up either. There is an opportunity out there for everyone!

 

As you embark on your volunteer journey, remember you have valuable skills to give. Consider volunteering this winter, and throughout the year, to feel more connected to others. Explore hundreds of opportunities in Toronto using our volunteer opportunities database.

 

Tags:  Give Back  Help finding a volunteer position  how do I get a volunteer position  How to start volunteering  Make a Difference  Mental Health  Questions about volunteering  Respect  Volunteer  Volunteer in Toronto  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  Volunteerism  Ways to volunteer 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

10 Places You Can Volunteer to Support Mental Health

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, December 15, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes | Written by Kasandra James

 

Mental health and mental illness affect people from all walks of life and in countless ways. While confronting mental health can be overwhelming, there are many ways to support mental health as a volunteer and make an impact in other’s lives. Check out these Toronto organizations and find out how you can give your time, skills and abilities to support their mental health programs:

 

Cota supports adults with mental health and cognitive challenges, helping them to live well within their communities. They provide services including supportive housing, short-term residential beds and day programs.

  • Location: Numerous sites across Toronto
  • How you can volunteer: Cota is often recruiting Adult Day Services Assistants who engage clients in meaningful activities to explore their strengths and develop new skills.

Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre is a multi-service agency in Toronto’s West End, providing health and community support services for infants, children, youth and seniors.

  • Location: Davenport Road and Old Weston Road 
  • How you can volunteer: As a Community Dining Assistant, you’ll help with set-up, clean-up and cooking for Wednesday community dinners. 

Family Service Toronto helps people facing a variety of life challenges, by assisting families and individuals through counselling, community development, advocacy and public education programs.

  • Location: Numerous sites across Toronto
  • How you can volunteer: As an Options Program Tutor and Life Skills Coach, you’ll maintain a supportive, friendly relationship with individuals who face mental health challenges. 

Fred Victor fosters long-lasting positive change in the lives of homeless and low-income people living across Toronto. Their services include: affordable housing, emergency shelter, job training and counselling, and community mental health outreach and services.

  • Location: Downtown East, multiple sites
  • How you can volunteer: Arts/Craft Instructors conduct weekly sessions with community members. 

Massey Centre is an infant and early childhood mental health organization supporting pregnant and parenting adolescents, aged 13-25, and their babies. Their programs include pre-and-post natal residential care, primary health care and maternal infant mental health.

  • Location: Broadview Avenue and Danforth Avenue
  • How you can volunteer: Parent Relief Volunteers provide basic child care while young mothers take much-needed breaks or run errands. 

Senior Persons Living Connected (SPLC) provides programs and services that meet the diverse needs of older adults and their caregivers. Services include seniors housing, counselling and social, recreational and fitness programs.

  • Location: Warden Avenue and Finch Avenue
  • How you can volunteer: Friendly Visitors spend time with seniors, engaging in conversation and leisure activities. 

SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health (formerly The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre) combines prevention, treatment, research and education to support children, youth and families facing mental health challenges.

  • Location: Keele St. and Sheppard Avenue West or Jarvis St. and Wellesley St. East
  • How you can volunteer: Research Assistants contribute to CCMH’s inter-disciplinary, evidenced-based mental health treatment and support system. 

The Gatehouse provides support, community and resources for individuals impacted by childhood sexual abuse, including an Investigation Support Program, Art Therapy and the Transforming Trauma Conference.

  • Location: Lakeshore Blvd. and Kipling Avenue
  • How you can volunteer: Give your time as a Peer Support Group Facilitator, supporting those impacted by childhood sexual abuse. 

Victim Services Toronto provides immediate crisis response, intervention and prevention services to individuals, families and communities affected by crime and sudden tragedies. Programs include The Trauma Dog Program, High Risk Support Services and Teens Ending Abusive Relationships (TEAR).

  • Location: Yonge St. and College St.
  • How you can volunteer: Crisis Counsellor Volunteers work alongside professional crisis counsellors to support victims in Toronto. 

Yorktown Family Services is dedicated to providing effective, accessible, quality mental health treatment, prevention and outreach services to children, youth, women and families. The agency is divided into a Child and Family Centre and a Shelter for Women and their children, fleeing abusive relationships.

  • Location: Dufferin St. and Eglinton Avenue West 
  • How you can volunteer: Walk-In Clinic Counsellors bring their professional counselling experience to the Family Centre and Shelter, on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. 

Is your perfect volunteer role not in this list? Most of these organizations have multiple volunteer opportunities, so make sure you visit their websites to find out more. If you still can’t find the right fit, search Volunteer Toronto’s database using the keywords “mental health” or contact a Volunteer Advisor at 416-961-6888 x 232 or advisors@volunteertoronto.ca.

 

Tags:  Abuse Stories  Activism  Activists  Anti-Bulling  Frequently Asked Questions  friendly visitor  Give Back  health care volunteer positions  How to give back  How to start volunteering  how to volunteer  How to volunteer in Toronto  Leadership  Make a Difference  Mental Health  Mentorship  Questions about volunteering  skilled volunteering  Skills  Toronto volunteers  types of volunteer positions  Volunteer  Volunteer in Toronto  volunteer leaders  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  volunteering in Toronto  Volunteerism  Ways to volunteer 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

I Love My Pink Shirt!

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, February 8, 2016
Updated: February 5, 2016
 
 Founders of Pink Shirt Day - Photo courtesy of Pink Shirt Day

 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes  

 

February 24 is Pink Shirt Day, a national day to raise awareness about bullying. Pink Shirt Day was started in Nova Scotia in 2007 when a male student wore a pink t-shirt on the first day of school and was bullied about being gay. Two senior students overhearing this, mobilized their school community to respond and the next day hundreds of students came to school wearing pink shirts. This awesome story showcases students creating community responses to harm and empowering others to do the same!

 

At its root, bullying is about discrimination and believing it’s okay to make fun of someone because they don’t fit into society’s mythical norms. There are many things you can do to empower students and fight the causes of bullying.

 

Here are just 5 ways you can get involved. To find the relevant opportunities available through Volunteer Toronto, search by the Category identified:   

 

Raise Awareness about Discrimination (Advocacy Positions)

Become involved in organizations that raise awareness about the diversity of people’s experiences and seek to create change. Whether it is promoting LGBTQ inclusion, educating about classism or advocating for those who live with disabilities, raising awareness plays an important role in combatting discrimination.

 

Be a Positive Role Model (Counselling/Mentorship Positions)

Mentorship plays an important role in empowering youth and allowing them to feel affirmed and heard. Having a positive role model, outside of school and home, can help youth explore opportunities, work towards goals and develop in exciting new ways!

 

Participate in Extracurricular Activities (Artistic Work/Crafting Positions or Recreation/Sports Positions)

Being involved in programming outside of school is imperative for youth with unique gifts and for those who don’t do well in classroom settings. Youth can truly shine learning a new instrument, playing sports or knitting scarves.  Recreational activities outside of school are important for youth’s personal growth and well-being.

 

Tutor Students (Teaching/Tutoring/Assistance Positions)

For some youth, school is difficult because they have trouble with literacy or understanding math and science concepts.  Volunteer tutors play a large role in assisting youth with school work and helping them to better engage with the material in the classroom.

 

Provide Counselling Support (Counselling/Mentorship)

Sometimes youth need someone to talk to. Providing support in-person or over the phone is important, whether in an on-going position or for youth in crisis.

 

On February 24, let’s celebrate those Nova Scotian youth who took a stand for inclusion and help empower other youth to do the same!

Tags:  Anti-Bulling  Bulling  Education  Mental Health  Pink Shirt Day  Respect  Role Models  Toronto  Volunteer  Volunteering  Youth Mentorship 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 
more Upcoming Events

2019-05-21
Volunteering As a Newcomer (Scarborough - May 21)

2019-05-27
6 Ways Volunteering Supports Job Search - May 27 (Downtown West)

Featured Members
Distress CentresFostering hope and resilience, one connection at a time

#VolunteersofTO

Volunteer Toronto Central-West

721 Bloor Street West, Suite 202
Toronto, ON
M6G 1L5

Volunteer Toronto East

2425 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 214
Scarborough, ON
M1K 5G8

Open To The Public

Monday-Friday
9:00am-5:00pm

T.416-961-6888
E.
info@volunteertoronto.ca



CRA# 119287092RR0001

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal