focus area icon

Mental Health: Facilitate and Support Volunteerism


  • Mental health,
  • Social environment,
  • Community,
  • Facilities & organizations,
  • Healthcare facilities,
  • Schools,
  • Workplace,

Facilitate and support volunteerism

Volunteering activities can promote the formation of friendships, an increase in social networks and improvements in mental health.

Fort Edmonton’s garden program provides an opportunity for volunteers to learn and contribute their time and knowledge to maintain this lively outdoor space. Volunteers report feeling a sense of purpose and peace and enjoy contributing to this summer project.

Ways to get started

  • Create a volunteer committee or database to make it easy for indiviuals to find more opportunities.
  • Ensure volunteer opportunities clearly outlined and available for all ages and abilities.1
  • Offer opportunities and resources in other languages, when possible.2
  • Provide group transporation to promote social interaction.1
  • Host events outside the volunteer schedule to celebrate the participant's contributions thoughout the year.
  • Work with partners to provide volunteer orientation to ensure successful placement.3

For further action to promote/improve mental health in your community, see

Multi-component community-wide interventions that increase awareness about and provide opportunities for positive mental health in your community will have greater impact than implementing one-off strategies.

Evaluation measures the impact of all the hard work that went into developing a community initiative. Evaluating impact examines:

  1. What you expect to learn or change
  2. What you measure and report
  3. How to measure impact

What you expect to learn about facilitating and support volunteerism may include:

  • Increased number of activities, programs, events in the community and/or specific settings and spaces (e.g., parks, workplaces, schools or daycares, libraries, local fairs, etc.) that offer opportunities for volunteering
  • Increased number of initiatives or policies that support or encourage volunteerism
  • Increased number of community members volunteering
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness or isolation              

References- Volunteering

  1. Pillemer K, Wells NM, Meador RH, Schultz L, Henderson CR, Cope MT, et al. Engaging Older Adults in Environmental Volunteerism: The Retirees in Service to the Environment Program. Gerontologist. 2017;57(2):367–75.
  2. Bartlett H, Warburton J, Lui CW, Peach L, Carroll M. Preventing social isolation in later life: Findings and insights from a pilot Queensland intervention study. Ageing Soc. 2013;33(7):1167–89.
  3. Martínez-Maldonado M de la L, Chapela C, Mendoza-Núñez VM. Training of Mexican elders as health promoters: A qualitative study. Health Promot Int. 2018;1–16.
  4. Kapan A, Winzer E, Haider S, Titze S, Schindler K, Lackinger C, et al. Impact of a lay-led home-based intervention programme on quality of life in community-dwelling pre-frail and frail older adults: A randomized controlled trial. BMC Geriatr. 2017;17(1):154.
  5. Hinkle AJ, Sands C, Duran N, Houser L, Liechty L, Hartmann-Russell J. How food & fitness community partnerships successfully engaged youth Health Promot Pract. 2018;19(1):34S-44S
  6. van Goethem AAJ, van Hoof A, Orobio de Castro B, van Aken MAG. Quality if key- the impact of community service, community service quality, and reflection on adolescents' volunteering intentions Int J Dev Sci. 2014;8(3-4):137-147.
  7. Ferrera MJ, Sacks TK, Perez M, Nixon JP, Asis D, Coleman WL. Empowering immigrant youth in Chicago: utilizing CBPR to document the impact of a Youth Health Service Corps program. Fam Community Health. 2015;38(1):12-21