Most research on teen mental health tends to be focused on the negative – those things in a teen’s life that can cause trouble, illness, or challenge. However, one recent study, published by the British Psychological Society in June 2015, revealed that when teens are faced with adversity, especially those in lower socioeconomic circles, friendships can be a tremendous support.
The study asked questions of 409 students between the ages of 11 and 19 who resided in low income areas of England. The researchers examined the quality of the students’ friendships in a psychological assessment. In various ways, the assessment measured the students level of resilience when faced with challenges and how they coped with those challenges. Students of both genders found that their closest friendships helped them deal effectively with the problems they faced. The research found that friends helped with finding the positive in problems and with strategizing and planning. The results revealed that friends provided emotional support, which helped students develop skills and resilience so that they could meet the challenges they faced. In short, the research found that friends can help build resilience in teens.
Resilience is a psychological quality that can assist teens in saying no to drugs, curbing peer pressure, knowing when to make the right choices, and avoiding risky behavior. For instance, resilient teens are those who have learned to manage stress effectively. They tend to be those who have healthy relationships with adults, easy going dispositions, and inner resources that position them to move easily into adulthood.
The study mentioned above and other research has found that it’s actually important for teens to spend time with friends. Teens are searching for a sense of self during this life stage and being able to be with others is an essential component to this life task. Positive experiences with friends and peers can help build inner strength and confidence.
A few ways that teen can make friends, if they don’t already have connections that feel close, include:
Join a club – If teens have an interest in a certain type of book, for example, or in a particular kind of sport, then joining a club with others with the same interest can be a great way to make new friends. A sports team is another way to meet new people who enjoy the same physical activities. The paper, sites online, and postings in any community usually provide details about clubs to join.
Make friends with co-workers – If a teen is already working, this might be a great way to make friends too. If a teen wanted to develop a friendship with a coworker, one way to do this is ask to carpool with someone. Also, many companies offer carpool programs. Carpooling is a way to connect with people who live near you and save on transportation costs at the same time. If carpooling doesn’t work, a teen might find a reason to celebrate and invite friends from work to join him or her to that celebration or party.
If you already have a best friend or would like to make a close connection with someone, friends can be incredibly supportive and help teens build resilience.