Scouts and guides have better mental health in later life
The study, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, suggests taking part in the scouts or guides appears to help lower the risk of mental illness in later life.
Children who participate in the organisations – which aim to develop qualities such as self-reliance, resolve and a desire for self-learning – are likely to have better mental health in middle age, the findings show.
Such activities, which frequently involve being outdoors, also seem to remove the relatively higher likelihood of mental illness in those from poorer backgrounds, the results showed.
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.
28% of study participants had been in the scouts or guides, and those were found to be 18 per cent less likely to suffer from anxiety or mood disorders, compared with non-scouters at the age of 50.
Researchers say their findings suggest programmes that help children develop skills such as self-reliance and teamwork, and encourage being active outdoors, may have lifelong benefits.
Attending the guides or scouts may help build resilience against common stresses in life, or it may increase a person’s chances of achieving more in life, so that they are less likely to experience such stresses, researchers suggest.