The surprising benefits of volunteering on your mental health.
Recent research carried out by Cats Protection and the Mental Health Foundation found that 87% of people who owned a cat said it had a positive impact on their wellbeing. 76% said they could cope better with everyday life thanks to their cats.
As this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to share the impact that looking after cats has had on one of our wonderful volunteers, Catherine.
Catherine is a cat desensitisation volunteer at Warrington Adoption Centre, helping cats get used to human contact. While this work not only helps the cats in the centre’s care, it has also enabled Catherine to have a positive experience and even improve her mental health.
Before volunteering at Cats Protection, Catherine was studying at university. She found it increasingly overwhelming and felt she wasn’t supported adequately, so subsequently left. However, without the routine and structure she was used to, she fell into depression. She couldn’t do anything. Her depression got so bad that she found it difficult to get out of bed. She’d reached a point where she realised she needed to do something, so she decided to volunteer at Cats Protection’s Warrington Adoption Centre.
Catherine’s role as a desensitisation volunteer involves spending a lot of time playing with cats and kittens to help build their confidence before they are properly homed. By doing this, it gives her a sense of structure as well as motivation to get out of bed in the morning. Volunteering is important to Catherine for giving her something valued to do, without the pressure that came with university.
Volunteering at the centre has made her happier and more focused. Just as cats have proved to have a positive impact on mental health, Catherine enjoys her time spent with the cats and always leaves in a much better mood.
Catherine says: “I think that anyone thinking about volunteering should absolutely do it. If you have a couple of hours to spare, it is the best thing you can do with your time.”
If you would like to find out more about volunteering with Cats Protection and the benefits it can have to you, as well as the cats in our care, visit www.cats.org.uk/volunteer to search for roles.