Close high school friendships help improve mental health in young adulthood, finds study - Sovereign Health Group
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08-29-17 Category: Mental Health

Mental health problems may crop up owing to myriad reasons. While mental illnesses can affect anyone, studies indicate that adolescents and young adults are more vulnerable to psychological disorders. Those in high school may experience a number of challenges that can deeply affect their mental health.

Now, a new study titled “Close Friendship Strength and Broader Peer Group Desirability as Differential Predictors of Adult Mental Health” says how the nature of relationships with peers can affect adolescents’ emotional health as young adults. The findings of the study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia were published online in the journal Child Development in August 2017.

The researchers observed a sample of 169 teenagers over a period of 10 years, from the time they turned 15 years old until they were 25. The participants were ethnically, socially and economically diverse in nature. The respondents were examined every year and were asked about their closest friends and the kind of proximity they enjoyed with them. In addition, they were required to talk about their feelings of anxiety, level of social acceptance, self-esteem or signs of possible depression, while responding to the interviews and assessment tests. The teenaged respondents’ close friends were also asked about the bonds that they enjoyed during the interview process.

Popularity among schoolmates may heighten risk of anxiety

The researchers found that the mental health of the respondents attending high school are more likely to improve over time, while children enjoying popularity among their schoolmates might show a heightened risk of suffering from social anxiousness in later life. In addition, the teenagers who had no best friends and enjoyed no popularity during their high school days exhibited short-term alterations in the quality of their mental health. The differences, however, were visible only at later stages and exhibited themselves unbiased of the temporary experiences of young respondents.

The study found that positive experiences with friends helped in encouraging good feelings during the stage of personal identity development. The observations also led to possible conclusions of adolescents expecting more from their close and personal associations. Though few adolescents could well manage the company of close friends and handle popularity with equal ease, it is their diverse personal qualities that contribute to these two kinds of social successes, the study revealed.

Elucidating the findings, lead author Dr. Rachel Narr said, “Our research found that the quality of friendships during adolescence may directly predict aspects of long-term mental and emotional health.” The authors stressed that forming close bonds with friends is a significant characteristic of teenage social experience, saying that spending time on “cultivating close connections with a few individuals should be a priority.”

Way to recovery

Not all are born with mental disorders. Social and environmental factors create a dent in the quality of a person’s emotional health. Adolescents are vulnerable to changes around them and inability to cope with the situation can result in the manifestation of symptoms of potential psychiatric disorders that are left mostly ignored. Mental health problems are real and need to be treated just like physical diseases. Prioritizing treatment of mental disorders in young people will help address related problems they may be suffering from.

Mental health disorders can affect anyone during any given point of time. If you or your loved one is struggling with any type of mental disorders, Sovereign Health can help. Call our 24/7 helpline to know about our state-of-the-art mental health institutions spread across California and in other states of the U.S. You can also chat online with one of our representatives, who would be happy to answer all your queries.

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