Teen support groups let us know that anything is possible with a little help from our friends. These groups use the power of peers.
Peer groups consist of same-aged individuals who share similar interests. They can be very influential on childhood and adolescent social development, with peer group influence being at its highest during adolescence. Participating in a group provides an opportunity to be with people who are likely to have a common purpose and to understand one another.
Teen peer support groups are not the same as group therapy sessions. Group therapy is a specific type of mental health treatment that brings together several people with similar conditions under the guidance of a licensed mental health care provider.
Long-Term Impact of Joining Teen Support Groups
According to the American School Counselor Association, it may be easier for adolescents to open up to peers than to seek help from adults. ASCA also points out that peer support programs can improve students’ academic performance and build a sense of community.
Adolescents often think that they are struggling alone or do not feel comfortable communicating with their families. Other times, teenagers may not feel understood by their families, which can lead to further isolation.
Peer support allows youth to share openly and honestly. Often, there’s no one better qualified to understand someone else than someone who has had a similar experience.
Group therapy for adolescents can be incredibly empowering – it offers a unique sense of social support and validation that teens may not get anywhere else.
Teen support groups allow youth to work together to overcome common issues and help:
- Provide a sense of understanding and empathy
- Gain better communication skills
- Improve academic performance
- Provide an overall more positive outlook
- Build self-esteem and confidence.
Teen and Peer Support Groups Can Improve Mental Health
Teen support groups can decrease social isolation and negative emotions when teens realize that they are not alone in their feelings and struggles.
A further benefit of peer support is to help to reduce the stigma around mental health and make it more socially acceptable for teens to seek help for their struggles.
Teen support groups allow youth to share openly and honestly. Often, there’s no one better qualified to understand someone else than someone who has had a similar experience.
Having someone else listen helps others feel acknowledged, validated and assured. Sharing common experiences helps people to feel less lonely, isolated or judged and nurtures trust.
Teen support groups increase the sense that “we are all in this together” and that others are having similar experiences.
Sharing feelings with the group may relieve pain or stress. Positive social support is critical to developing into a healthy adult.
Youth Initiative Peer Support Group
Youth Initiative is a youth-driven group empowering peers to be the voice of mental health experiences.
The goal is to provide a safe place where participants can talk about what they are going through or things that are happening at school or in their lives. The group encourages growth and development to end mental health stigma.
About the Author
Anisha Henderson is a Mental Health Navigator with Kids’ Minds Matter. “My own experience with mental health was with my father. At the time, my family didn’t know how to cope. We didn’t know about any resources that would help us. Now that I know there are resources available, I know how helpful they can be. I want to make sure that people who could benefit from them are aware that help is available.”