In the run up to national Volunteers Week in early June we asked Daniela, one of our volunteer researchers about her experience of volunteering with us.
Q: How long have you been volunteering at Health Action Campaign?
A: I’ve been volunteering for around 3 months. In January I received an email from REACH asking for a researcher for a student mental health project in London and I was interviewed the following month.
Q: What led you to volunteer with Health Action Campaign?
A: I applied for the position because I was interested in the topic and I had a long experience of supporting students. I also had some published work on the adaptation of foreign students.
I was a university teacher for many years, but I took early retirement and since then I’ve been volunteering at Cancer Research UK. I was looking for an opportunity to use my experience and knowledge to complement my other volunteer roles.
Q: Have you found that as well as contributing you’ve also learned new things?
A: I feel I have got more from Health Action Campaign than I have given so far.
The project is very well organized and the coordination is excellent. Meetings are well planned and effective. Tasks are distributed according to the interests of each member and everything runs very smoothly. At the end of each meeting I feel I have learnt something new and I feel better for it.
Q: How have you helped?
A: I’ve analysed media reporting on student mental health: I’m focusing on the period between 2008 and 2018, but have also gone back to articles written in 2000 to understand better how the media approach to the subject has evolved.
Mental health issues have attracted much attention in recent years and thus the number of articles on the subject has increased exponentially. This makes my task quite challenging, particularly because mental diagnostics thresholds are changing and because negative feelings and emotions are now increasingly described as mental health issues, in a way that might not have been the case a generation ago – making comparison over time more complicated.
My contribution to the project is from home and the project coordinator is always ready to help.
Q: How important is the charity’s message that prevention is better than cure?
A: When it comes to mental health, very important. That’s why we’re currently analysing different factors associated with student mental health in order to prevent what triggers mental problems.
Q: How have you felt about volunteering with Health Action Campaign?
A: It has been very good to have the opportunity to cooperate in this project and to meet other people who share the same interests.
I certainly would encourage people interested in contributing to a better society to volunteer for Health Action Campaign. Mental health concerns everybody, not only health professionals. The contribution of members of society from different backgrounds is essential if we are to fully grasp the complexity of mental health issues and implement effective actions.
Do you have relevant experience and skills and would like to volunteer to support our health research and campaigning? If so, we look forward to hearing from you - at firstname.lastname@example.org
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