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Participating in scouts and guides brings life-long benefits for mental health

Many children choose to participate in some kind of organizations, usually scouts and guides. It is a fun past time activity, which also helps them learn a lot. A new study found quite unexpected effect of being part of these organizations – former scouts and guides have better mental health and face a lesser risk of getting mentally ill.

Scouts and guides teach a lot, but even scientists were surprised to see that effects on mental health last for a very long time. Image credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher S. Wilson via Wikimedia, Public Domain

Scouts and guides teach a lot, but even scientists were surprised to see that effects on mental health last for a very long time. Image credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher S. Wilson via Wikimedia, Public Domain

There are many benefits of being a scout or a guide, but this one, identified by the scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, is quite unexpected. These positive effects to children’s health later in life are probably related to what these organizations teach – self-reliance, resolve and a desire for self-learning. Furthermore, in usual conditions children from poorer backgrounds face an increased risk of mental illness, but participating in scouts or guides eliminates the difference. Study is quite reliable, as it is based on information, collected from 10,000 people from across the UK.

All these people were born in November 1958 and were registered in the National Child Development Study. Now scientists wanted to see if these people who were part of scouts or guides have better mental health. And indeed they found that at the age of 50 scouts and guides did not suffer from so many problems and people who did not participate in these organizations. Only one-quarter of study participants had been in the scouts or guides, but the likelihood of having mental conditions was lower by 15 %. This means that various programmes that encourage children to stay outdoors for longer and to learn some new skills have life-long benefits.

Most likely, skills developed in scouts and guides help people to be more immune to common stresses in life and boosts self-confidence. Scientists were surprised to see how long after the participation in these groups benefits were still visible. It means that more attention is needed to increase participation in these groups, since it helps people long-term and eases pressure on health care systems. Bear Grylls, Chief Scout of the Scout Association, said: “I am really proud that scouting provides young people with an opportunity to develop the skills they need to be resilient and deal with what life throws at them”. And, of course, people also learn very important survival skills that one day may come in handy.

Encouraging children to be more social and to learn more is important. But only now we understand that such participation brings life-long benefits. Parents should be concerned that their children learn self-reliance, resolve and a desire for self-learning.

Source: gla.ac.uk