The mental health benefits of learning new things…

I don’t know if you have noticed, but as of yesterday, there are a few new buttons at the bottom of the posts.  I learnt how to do that, all by myself.  Added to that, the blog post will also be automatically publicised.  This is great for me while I am so busy de-cluttering, redecorating and deep cleaning the house in preparation for it to be put on the market.  It means I can write the blogs, publish it and then let it be.  Of course, it will be the wordpress address which is publicised, instead of my own domain name, but it will only be for a few weeks while I get myself straight and then it is back to using (or


Anyway, I was so excited that I had learned this new skill.  I felt a definite upsurge in mood, and just felt better.  For a techno-dimwit like me to work out how to add buttons to my blog and to get my blog to publicise itself?  Well… it feels kind of miraculous!  I started wondering if there is a recognised benefit to learning new things.  So, I do what I always do when I have a question like this, and headed for Google to find out!

According to, Adult and community learning programmes can have significant positive impacts on the mental health and well being of people with mild to moderate mental health problems.  These impacts can last for more than 12 months.  This works particularly well for people who do not want to necessarily access the traditional treatments for mental health issues like medication or therapy.   In the research carried out the learning programmes were split into healthy lifestyle things like learning tai chi, personal well being subjects like learning cognitive behavioural techniques or aromatherapy, and creative expression subjects such as creative writing or patchwork.  All of these helped people.

tai chi

Why does it work?  Most of the articles I have read appear to indicate that the benefits for mental health are linked with the widening of social networks, improved employment prospects and the boost to self esteem.  If it is a physical thing, there are also the health benefits of getting more active and doing more as well.  All of this boosts a persons confidence, and a boost in confidence makes you feel less depressed and more able to cope.

adult learning

Please do not think that I am promoting learning as a panacea for all mental health problems.  I am not.  But if you are in danger of falling into something of a doldrum, then perhaps learning a new skill, or learning about something which interests you is a good way of turning things around.   I think the important thing is that you need to be interested in it.  It doesn’t help if you are learning something because you HAVE to.  I know that doing my accountancy exams did nothing to improve my mental health at all (because I HAD to study it), but learning about Herbalism is just dandy and makes me smile!


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