A new study found that having a best friend during high school years can improve your mental health in young adulthood. The study revealed that kids aged 15 and 16 with a close friend were more likely to report lower levels of depression and social anxiety through age 25 than their more popular colleagues who lacked a bestie.
Past studies had found too that friendship is teen years is associated with stronger mental health and better academic motivation in later years.
Lead author of the study Rachel K. Narr said her team wanted to know more details on the association such as long-term benefits and how long those benefits last. Narr noted that she had a gut feeling that teens with best friends were more advantaged than their peers without a close friend.
The latest study involved 169 teens who were tracked for more than a decade. The kids had different economic and social backgrounds and were of different races and ethnicities. Kids were interviewed at age 15 and 25.
They had to answer questions about who their besties were, and for how long they knew each other. The interviews also included questions on the level of depression, social anxiety, self-worth, and social acceptance.
Popular Kids Not Necessarily Happy
The study authors made sure that the reported best friends were indeed best friends and the kids who were more popular had evidence about their popularity from others. Researchers focused on “high-quality friendships” which include a high degree of support and attachment.
Researchers explained that there are two kinds of popularity: some people are genuinely likable and a people’s attractor, while other people actively seek popularity and when they get it they use it as power.
Scientists explained that likable people tend to have healthier relationships and even live longer, while status-obsessed people usually end up depressed, anxious, or with addiction issues.