Giving and Receiving Gratitude Improves Youth Mental Health

ReachOut is an information and support service that uses evidence based principles and technology to help teens and young adults who are facing tough times and struggling with mental health issues.

Mental health professionals and spiritual leaders have long known that feeling and expressing gratitude can bring a whole host of psychological benefits. Recent research from California State University-Dominguez Hills found that this is especially true for young people. The study found that teens who expressed gratitude on a regular basis felt more well-being and hope, and had fewer difficulties with depression and negative emotions. Teens who expressed the most gratitude were 15 percent more likely to feel their lives had meaning, and 13 percent less likely to have overwhelming negative emotions.

ReachOutAt ReachOutHere we see the power of gratitude on a daily basis. We hear young people talk about how feeling heard and understood changed their days, their weeks and their lives. They talk about how the resources and tools featured on ReachOutHere.com and BuscaApoyo.org (Spanish-language) reduced their feelings of hopelessness. Here are some of the voices of gratitude, in their own words:

  • “I can really feel through what you’ve said that you care, and thank you for all your kind words! I really wasn’t expecting this, and it’s a really nice surprise.” -gangurobunni
  • “I really love you guys. No matter what I need, you are always here. Thank you.” -Mints2001
  • “Muchas Gracias!!! Me da mucho gusta saber que tengo amigos que les importo en estos foros!” (Thank you very much!!! It makes me really happy to know I have friends that care about me on the forums!) -MariaDesamparada
  • “Honestly this site is awesome and so are you. I hope that if and when I get over this particular hardship in my life, that I’ll be able to help others in the same predicament as I am.” -Guilty12
  • “I appreciate the love and support that I am receiving from this forum. To care and consider the feelings of a complete stranger is commendable and is truly the peak of a loving community. Thank you, because I have been hurting a lot lately, but writing on here soothes me.” -bmac4395

The young people posting on the ReachOutHere and BuscaApoyo forums also talk about the impact that receiving gratitude has had on them. They are learning firsthand that being able to offer a hand to others in need can be just as powerful as getting supported themselves.

  • “I find it really helpful on here and I like supporting people. It makes me feel better to know I could be encouraging or helping someone, even if it’s small. It also makes me feel better to know I’m not entirely alone and that I’m not the only one struggling with stuff.” -Dancingmachine22

Feeling inspired by the gratitude and care of our community? Visit ReachOutHere.com and BuscaApoyo.org and experience for yourself the power of giving and receiving thanks. All youth ages 14 – 24 can register to join the forums and discuss a range of social and mental health related issues with trained peer leaders.