A new study conducted by the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh shows that scouts and guides have an improved mental health later in their lives. Children who take part in such organizations are likely to develop resilience and abilities that help them in difficult times. These qualities include decision making, self-reliance and a desire for learning by themselves, which often encourage being active outdoors.
People who were scouts and guides are less likely prone to mental illness
Scientists also found that on average by the time scouts and guides reached middle age, they were 15 percent less likely to be affected by depression or mental illness compared to others. This effect was even reduced to those people from poorer backgrounds with a high risk of such disorders.
To conduct this study, the National Child Development Study (NCDS), one of the British best resources for health and social research, analyzed long-run data from a group of people born in England in November 1958. Through periodical interviews of the group, results on how a participant’s health and life developed over a period were recorded.
The striking aspect about NCDS is that it collects lots of information about the life conditions of the participants. For instance, the type of family and home a child grew, their parents’ health, job, education attitude and ambition for their child’s future was taken into account.
Such details are crucial to ascertain that the results identified corresponded to a real relationship. NCDS also considered the participants’ family background, and the impacts they may have on their health later in life.
The leading researcher, Professor Chris Dibben, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences supported the study by saying “It is quite startling that this benefit is found in people so many years after they have attended guides or scouts.”
Therefore, even though this study concentrated on a group born over 50 years ago, it seems that the standards of the groups remain unchanged. Also, similar benefits could be drawn from membership for children these days. Given the increasing levels of poor mental health and stress in younger people, it would be helpful for parents or guardians to encourage participation of these youth programs.
The effect is more significant for children from less well-off families
Since scouting and guiding involve children from various social backgrounds, it is wise to conclude that good mental health should not only be attributed to better living standards or wealthier children. Even though people from poorer backgrounds are more likely to experience poor mental health, this situation was offset by participating in the scouting or guiding association. Therefore, it would seem that encouraging involvement in poorer groups is crucial.
Moreover, research suggests that joining the scouts and guides may help strengthen a person’s likelihoods of accomplishing more in life with better mental health or it may create resilience against everyday stresses in life. So, such people are less likely to suffer from stresses or mental issues, a reason to be proud of if you had been a scout and guide before.
Finally, mental health complications in the middle-aged people are increasingly common, and cost people and society a lot of impact in both emotional and financial terms. Also, the health gaps between poorer and rich people remain a significant problem. Scouts and guides activities are not expensive, and they are available worldwide. Possibly they could contribute to a successful policy response to people with mental problems or stress.