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Tanya Manchanda's new paper investigates the role of friendship on the mental health outcomes of adolescents

Groups of friends supporting each other © Shutterstock

Research has found that adolescents turn to their friends most when seeking support for their mental health.

Limited research exists on friendship interventions — which are interventions involving an adolescents' authentic social group for mental health support.

Our study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, screened over 37,000 articles and included 24 in the scoping review, and 18 in the systematic review.

In our paper, co-authored by Professor Alan Stein and Professor Mina Fazel, three prominent themes emerged: 

  • The most common theme was promoting mental health literacy, followed by supporting help‐seeking, and friendship‐building/combating isolation.
  • Most evaluations focused on the individual who had received the intervention, rather than their wider friends who would have been potential contacts and experienced any altered interactions.
  • While opportunities for improving mental health literacy and help‐seeking emerged as key themes, the role of friends in mental health interventions has only been included in a small number of studies.

"Friends are seldom involved in mental health interventions, despite being a key source of informal support for adolescents, especially at times of crisis."

Tanya Manchanda, Department of Psychiatry

Watch Tanya present her work at the Global Young Scientist Summit in Singapore.

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