New Self-Help Nonprofit Tries Addressing Depression through Volunteerism

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April 23, 2015; 5280 (Denver, CO)

A few years ago, Eileen Cunniffe wrote a newswire about the health benefits of volunteering, so it should come as no surprise that someone has founded a nonprofit that addresses the symptoms of depression through providing group volunteer opportunities.

While still very new, the name of the Denver-based nonprofit is Project Helping and it was founded by 33-year-old Justin Kruger, who himself struggles with depression.

As reported by Cunniffe in 2013, a national survey of 3,351 adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of UnitedHealth Group found that “people who report that volunteering helps them cope with a chronic illness and/or helps them take their minds off their own problems. Survey respondents who volunteer scored better than those that don’t on nine well-established measures of emotional well-being.”

Before he started volunteering at the urging of his wife, Kruger tried medications and therapy, but nothing really turned around. About volunteering, he says, “The more I did it, the more I realized how incredibly beneficial it was for someone living with depression.”—Ruth McCambridge

  • Kal

    Helping others is one of the steps in the system. Written by James Gordon, a former depression & PTSD sufferer, it teaches 7 natural steps which help to eliminate depression from your life.

  • Cat Anthony

    This is a good concept, but there needs to be some monitoring of what types of volunteer opportunities are provided. Volunteering to help or grow yourself is not always the best way to volunteer or help others. For example volunteer vacations where people go for the purposes of traveling, self-fulfillment or finding yourself can hurt the people you are serving and trying to help.

    Again, great concept, but they need to choose the group volunteer opportunities wisely.

  • Debbie

    I think it is great what Mr. Kruger is doing. We do the same thing here in Miami, FL, but we call “Peer Specialist”. And he is so right while helping your peer through a crisis, you’re actually helping yourself. I say that is awesome. Keep up the good work.