As well as teaching us valuable life lessons such as how to build a fire and forage in the woods for food, a la Bear Grylls, being a member of the Girl Guides could have long-lasting benefits for our mental health.
According to the findings of a lifelong study, Girl Guide members have a lower risk of developing a mental illness in middle age compared to those who aren’t in the organisation.
The study, which has been following the lives of almost 10,000 people born in the UK in November 1958, found that women and men who were part of either the Guides or Scouts were 15% less likely to develop anxiety or mood disorders at age 50 compared to those who weren’t.
Analysed by researchers from Edinburgh and Glasgow universities, the findings also showed that activities promoted by the Guides and Scouts, such as regularly being outdoors, could diminish the higher likelihood that those from poorer backgrounds face of developing a mental illness.
“It is quite startling that this benefit is found in people so many years after they have attended Guides or Scouts,” Lead researcher Professor Chris Dibben, of the University of Edinburgh, told The Independent.
“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,” he added.