You might be wondering what mentoring has to do with mental health. Well, it has a lot to do with it. Mentoring, at its core, is helping another person. There are many benefits of mentoring, for all parties involved. Of course, the obvious ones involve career development or personal advice, but what about the impact on our mental health? Here are some ways that having a mentor can help your mental health.
Mental illness can be an isolating experience. Fortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health has decreased over the years, but many people still have a difficult time discussing it. Having a trusted mentor in our lives can help ease the fear of discussing these topics. At the very least, a constant presence can help remind someone that they are not alone. Whether it is direct or indirect, a mentor can help to support you through a difficult time.
Simply knowing that someone is listening to what you have to say can help improve a person’s mental health. This can be difficult, especially in a work environment. Many mentoring relationships are established through our careers. Having a trusted confidant to talk to and seek advice from is a huge positive. Especially when you have access to them every single day. Mentors are not therapists, but they can be a quick outlet if needed.
Mental health and confidence go hand in hand as they can directly impact one another. When people have a mentor, they tend to feel more confident in their thought processes and decisions. It is a safe environment to talk things over, explore ideas, and get reassurance when they are doubting themselves. Similarly, being a mentor increases confidence as well. Helping another person achieve their goals is a satisfactory experience and makes humans feel good.
For children, especially, having an adult mentor helps build a child’s social and emotional skillsets, which directly impact mental health. In other words, they will better control their emotions and behaviors in difficult situations. They will also be able to create and maintain healthy relationships and set and achieve their goals. Forming this solid foundation in their developmental years will greatly improve a child’s wellbeing in the future.
Many children are lacking positive adult influences in their personal lives and having a mentor can help them stay on track in school and in life. Having someone to look out for them or check in might make a world of difference to a child who is not receiving that care at home.
How to get involved
Why should you get involved? Well, being a mentor has a lot of benefits too. Volunteering is linked to improved physical and mental health, overall satisfaction, social well-being, and in some cases has helped to combat depression.
Organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America would be a great place to start. Most people know them for their one-on-one mentoring between a “big” and a “little”. This allows you to build a relationship with a child and help to shape their future for the better. The organization provides resources and checks in regularly to see how it is going.
You can also get involved at your workplace. Reach out to your Human Resources department to see if a mentoring program is already in place. If not, see if you can help get the ball rolling. Or, if they prefer to do it informally, you can always reach out to younger colleagues and ask what their interests are or where they want to take their career. Overall, mentoring is a win-win, and the impact is invaluable.