In 2021, 22% of students seriously considered attempting suicide. Mental Health Ireland found that 25% of people will experience mental health problems in their lifetime. Mental health problems account for the majority of the disease burden in Ireland, with depression and anxiety being the leading causes of disability. And lastly, 35% of adults experienced anxiety during the pandemic. These are very worrying statistics and are ones that we need to fight head on!
Why Team Building?
So, how can team building and feelings of belonging help? Again, let’s look at the research regarding schools. A study of 110,000 adolescents found that teenagers who were integrated into friendship networks had better mental health. A 2021 study found that adolescents with strong teen friendships were less likely to internalise the stress of isolation during the pandemic. Researchers in a study of 108 high school students found that friendships helped teens deal better with stressful events. The friendship groups helped with stressful events better than with adults. Scientific researchers found that the same parts of the brain are activated by social rejection as physical pain. And lastly, adults with close friends as teenagers reported higher levels of self-worth and lower levels of social anxiety and depression at age 25.
So, the above statistics show the importance of helping students develop friendship groups in schools. They play a monumental role in their development and also act as their main support system with the many challenges teenagers face. Next time we try to distance ourselves from students because they might be slightly different, why not change our perspective and ask ourselves – what could we do to help this person integrate with a friendship group in the school. The effects of this can’t be overstated.
We can help with this by giving students the opportunity to open up, embrace their peers and see how each person has different skills that help the group overall.