Wellbeing and social support

Ella Rhodes reports.

A study of more than 10,000 teenagers has explored the links between perceived social support and wellbeing. The study, from UCL and the Anna Freud Centre’s Evidence Based Practice Unit, used data from the National-Lottery funded HeadStart programme to find out whether perceived social support changes over time and its impact on wellbeing.  

An earlier evidence briefing, which also used data from HeadStart, found that between early and mid-adolescence girls showed an increase in mental health difficulties alongside decreases in subjective wellbeing – a pattern which was not seen in boys overall. In this work researchers analysed longitudinal data from 10,888 young people who completed a HeadStart wellbeing measure annually from 2017 until 2019 – between year seven (when aged 11 or 12) and year nine (aged 13 or 14).

They found that during adolescence levels of perceived support from school and the community declined, while support at home and from peers was more stable. Looking at differences between boys and girls, the researchers found that girls in year seven felt they had more support from home, school, peers and the community than boys and in year nine girls also reported more support from their peers compared to boys, however boys felt they had more support from school than girls.

By year 9 there were no significant differences between levels of perceived support from home or the community. The researchers said their evidence suggested that wellbeing and perceived social support were related – in years seven and year nine more support from home, school, peers, and the community was correlated with better wellbeing. 

To read the full evidence briefing see: tinyurl.com/2y6fthf5

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