Peer Pressure and Mental Health

Peer Pressure and Mental Health

Caroline Capuzello, Sophomore Staff Writer

Peers play a large role in the social and emotional development of adolescents. Their influence begins at an early age and increases through the teenage years. It is natural, healthy and important for children to have friends to rely on as they grow and mature. They can help each other develop new skills, stimulate interest in books, music or extracurricular activities. However, children and teens may struggle to cope with the varying forms and degrees of peer pressure. Many teens particularly often look to our peers for guidance, reassurance, and a sense of belonging. While this pressure can be positive and encouraging, it can have many negative effects as well. Social pressure can affect a wide range of thoughts, actions and behaviors, and can be detrimental to one’s mental health. 

Young people especially tend to lose themselves in order to fit in, or be accepted by others. Many times, teens feel pressured to engage in conversations and activities with their friends that make them uncomfortable. When expressing their feelings, they’re often faced with remarks from their peers, telling them they’re too sensitive, boring, etc. This can make a normally self-confident student teen doubt who they are, and can impact their self esteem. Senior Jordyn Juillerat from Hubbard High School comments, “Peer pressure made me feel like I had to hide a part of myself from my friends. I had to think twice about whether or not I was doing something wrong.” This effect on confidence can lead to other more serious issues such as anxiety and depression. 

According to, there is a direct correlation between peer pressure and depression in young people. When peer pressure demands that they act in ways with which they are not comfortable, it can cause teens to suffer. Another HHS student who preferred to remain anonymous stated: “My friend pressured me into going to a party that I didn’t want to go to. I was so uncomfortable it led to a mini-panic attack. I ended up lying to my mom about where I was, and I still feel really guilty to this day.”

Peer pressure is a powerful force that can have an adverse effect on children and young people’s health and wellbeing.  Online sources state that some of the effects of social pressure on mental health include low self-esteem, extreme self-consciousness, sensitivity to criticism, depression, anxiety, and sensitivity to rejection. It is important for teens to surround themselves with people and friends who bring them up rather than tear them down.