BFF’s and Mental Health

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABest friends in our childhood may mean much more than we ever realized! A new study suggests that having a few close friends while we’re growing up outweighs having a lot of superficial ones…..and it may be good for our mental health.

From Medical News Today:

As a teenager, few things are as important as having close friends with whom to share intimate secrets over long phone conversations. But do these friendships also benefit us into adulthood? 

Studies referenced by the authors have shown that teenagers with close friendships tend to be more adaptive to stress, report being happier due to an increased feeling of uniqueness, and are likely to do better academically. Additionally, they tend to have higher self-esteem and are more assertive.

Group of Friends SmilingCBS News added, “Adolescents who prioritized tight-knit friendships at age 15 had lower social anxiety, increased sense of self-worth, and fewer symptoms of depression by the time they reached age 25 than their peers. In contrast, those who were considered popular in high school had higher levels of social anxiety as adults.”

According to News-Medical.net:

The study concludes that having intimate and strong friendships in adolescence might help in promoting long-term mental health. According to the researches, this might be due to positive experiences with friends that help in strengthening positive feelings on oneself at a stage of life when development of the personal identity happens. They also suggest that the intimate friendships might set adolescents on a path of expectation and thus, in future, supportive experiments are encouraged.

So, how did researchers come to the conclusion that BFF’s (best friends forever) in adolescence could translate to better mental health later in life? Well, the research team followed 169 people for 10 years, starting when they were 15 years old. The subjects and their friends were brought in for interviews starting at age 15 and continuing through age 25. They were questioned about their friendships and their social development.

Newsweek.com quoted the study’s leader, Rachel K. Narr, a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia as saying:

My hunch was that close friendships compared to broader friendship groups and popularity may not function the same way. Being successful in one is not the same as being successful in the other.

Study co-author Joseph Allen wrote about the importance of close friends in today’s high-tech environment. “As technology makes it increasingly easy to build a social network of superficial friends, focusing time and attention on cultivating close connections with a few individuals should be a priority.”

Interesting that the results point to the importance of a few close friends over legions of adoring fans! Share your thoughts on this study and whether you believe a few best friends can be a boost to your mental health. Generating meaningful conversations around the health stories making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

 

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