Family And Friends Are Your Mental Health Shields!

Youth who perceive that they have someone to rely on, report better mental health outcomes. Researchers found that perceived social support during early adulthood, which is marked by major changes in social roles, can help with mental health problems.

The team of McGill University led by Marie-Claude Geoffroy, Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology at McGill, reevaluated the role of social support, such as family and friends, as a defense against mental health issues like depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts in a study that was published today in JAMA Network Open. Their results indicate that young adults who perceived higher levels of social support — the feeling that there is someone who they can depend on for help should they need it — at the age of 19, showed lower levels of depression and anxiety symptoms one year later.

“Our study shows that even in cases where people previously experienced mental health problems, social support was beneficial for mental health later on,” says Prof. Geoffroy, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Youth Suicide Prevention. “We discovered potential benefits of promoting and leveraging social support as a means to protect the mental health of young adults, even in individuals who experienced mental health problems at an earlier developmental stage in life. That social support is not only beneficial for depression, but for other salient mental health outcomes as well.”

Higher social support less depression

The research team used information from the Quebec Longitudinal Study on Child Development, which was compiled by the Institut de la statistique du Québec from more than 1,000 participants in a sample of people who were born in the province of Quebec. Researchers examined individuals’ perceptions of social support at the start of adulthood after following them since their birth in 1997 and 1998.

Researchers discovered that those with higher levels of social support reported 47% less severe depression and 22% less anxiety than individuals with lower levels of social support. The researchers also discovered that those who perceived more social support had a 40% lower likelihood of having suicidal thoughts and attempts.

When you think you can rely on someone, you have better mental health

“Our study was conducted before the current COVID-19 pandemic, so we do not know whether our results will apply in the current context,” adds Sara Scardera, a master’s student in McGill’s School/Applied Child Psychology program under the supervision of Prof. Geoffroy and co-author of the study. “However, in a ‘normal’ context, youth who perceived that they had someone to rely on reported better mental health outcomes. We believe that is beneficial to offer help to those in need, and to make sure your friends know that they can count on you.”

New mental health data will be available when individuals reach 23 over the course of the 2021 winter season because the data collection is ongoing. The scientists will check to see if the same associations were present during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Future studies will look at whether particular forms of social support, such as those from parents vs peers, are better for young adults’ mental health.

Story Source:

Materials provided by McGill University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Sara Scardera, Léa C. Perret, Isabelle Ouellet-Morin, Geneviève Gariépy, Robert-Paul Juster, Michel Boivin, Gustavo Turecki, Richard E. Tremblay, Sylvana Côté, Marie-Claude Geoffroy. Association of Social Support During Adolescence With Depression, Anxiety, and Suicidal Ideation in Young Adults. JAMA Network Open, 2020; 3 (12): e2027491 DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.27491

Page citation:

McGill University. “Strong social support decreases mental health problems in young adults: Awareness and presence of social support may guard against mental health problems.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2020. <>.

Help is here:

Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline Kiran (1800-599-0019)

Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation

Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone who is experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.


Contact: Email:

Telephone: +91 9999 666 555

 Name of the Organisation: Aasra

AASRA volunteers conduct workshops on different levels with high-risk target groups eg schools, college students, highly-stressed employees of call centers, financial institutions, multinationals etc. AASRA volunteers have Outreach programs to reach out to the multitudes who may choose to end their lives because of chronic suffering or terminal illness.

Contact: email:

 Telephone: 91-9820466726

Leave a Reply