Scouts and Guides have better mental health in later life – study

Taking part in Scouts or Guides potentially helps lower the risk of mental illness in later life, a UK study suggests.

The findings were drawn from a lifelong study of almost 10,000 people from across the UK who were born in November 1958, known as the National Child Development Study.

Scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, who analysed the data, found that those who had belonged to the Scouts or Guides tended to have better mental health at age 50.

Around one-quarter of study participants had been in the Scouts or Guides, and those were found to be around 15 per cent less likely to suffer from anxiety or mood disorders, compared with others.

University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences professor Chris Dibben says in a press release it is “quite startling that this benefit is found in people so many years after they have attended Guides or Scouts”.

“We expect the same principles would apply to the Scouts and Guides of today and so, given the high costs of mental ill health to individuals and society, a focus on voluntary youth programmes such as the guides and scouts might be very sensible.”

The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.


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First published: Nov 2016

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