Being a Scout or Guide may benefit a child's mental health later in life, a new study has found.
The results are based on a lifelong study of almost 10,000 people who were born in the UK in 1959. Scottish researchers found that those who had been active members of the Scouts or Guides tended to have better mental health by the age of 50.
The study also noted that Scouting activities, which often involve being outdoors, seemed to remove the higher risk of mental illness in those from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds.
Around one-quarter of the study participants had been members of the Scouts or Guides and overall, they were found to be 15% less likely to suffer with anxiety or mood disorders compared to those who had not been members.
Commenting on the findings, Christy McCann, Chief Scout of Scouting Ireland, said that the ‘Scout method' aims to develop resilience and give young people the skills they need to deal with difficulties that can arise in life.
"Modern society is putting pressures on our young people and leading to levels of anxiety previously unseen in teenagers and this research confirms that active participation in groups such as Scouts or Guides helps our young people to achieve more and cope better with the stresses of life," Mr McCann insisted.
Scouting Ireland is currently Ireland's largest youth movement, with over 50,000 members in communities nationwide. The organisation will be discussing mental health in young people as part of its annual conference, which takes place in Tullamore this weekend.