Thursday, May 9, 2024

Friendship Matters: How We Can Tackle Loneliness to Boost Confidence Among Girls

Did you know that as girls grow older, they often start to feel lonelier and less confident? Yup! It’s true. Experts have long discussed the impact of loneliness and social isolation on peoples’ well-being, including mental, emotional, and physical health. The U.S. Surgeon General has even called loneliness an epidemic. In recent years, girls have been disproportionately affected by mental health issues—it’s no wonder they’re not immune to the loneliness epidemic, either. It’s time we dive into this.

We set out to learn more about loneliness and how it affects girls by sending out a survey. And guess what? The results were eye-opening. Nearly 70 percent of girls ages five through 13 experience loneliness. And, as feelings of loneliness increase, self-confidence decreases.

But there was a bit of encouraging news, and it has to do with the power of friendship.

Here’s what we learned:

  • Loneliness Increases with Age: Survey results show that loneliness escalates as girls get older. 64 percent of girls ages five through seven, 67 percent of girls ages eight through ten, and 73 percent of girls ages 11 through 13 reported feelings of loneliness.
  • As Loneliness Grows, Confidence Drops: While 86 percent of girls ages five through seven expressed beliefs in their ability to tackle challenges, this figure drops to 80 percent among girls ages eight through ten and even down to 73 percent among 11 through 13-year-old girls.
  • Friendship Is a Confidence Booster: Companionship helps girls try things they wouldn’t otherwise do alone. For more than half of the girls surveyed, having a friend by their side encourages them to try new things (52 percent) like talk to a new kid (52 percent); 50 percent would join a new group with a friend.
  • Girls Prefer Real Interactions to Screen Time: Most girls would prefer to be creative (63 percent), go outside and play (59 percent), or spend time with their family (59 percent) rather than spend all their time on screens. Despite the ubiquity of digital devices, these results point to girls’ desires for a range of authentic experiences and interpersonal connections.
These findings highlight the importance of supporting young girls in building meaningful connections and boosting their confidence. With that in mind, Girl Scouts has programming meant to tackle the specific issues today’s girls face, thanks in part to amazing partners like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

Our amazing mental wellness resources and programming were specifically developed to support girls, Girl Scout council staff, and adult volunteers as they learn about mental wellness, behavioral issues, and healthy habits. Through our mental wellness programming, girls across the country are given the tools to effectively identify and communicate their emotions, offer support to their friends, and seek help from trusted adults in their community.

And we know a thing or two about helping girls build lasting friendships and their self-confidence!

Girl Scouts offers programming that can help all of us address the loneliness epidemic.

Girl Scouts Mental Wellness Programs for Girls:

  • Resilient. Ready. Strong. Patch Program
    • Have you heard about the awesome Resilient. Ready. Strong patch program designed for ALL grade levels? Launched in 2021, this program is all about boosting confidence and tackling challenges heads-on with easy and fun activities and help girls boost their resilience and learn skills to lift their moods when they need it.
  • Mental Wellness Patch Program
    • Picture this: A special program for Girl Scout Juniors through Ambassadors (grades 4–12), packed with practical tips for handling tricky emotions. We’re talking about helping girls identify and tackle their feelings while encouraging help-seeking behavior through the “Finding My Voice,” “Showing Up for Me and You,” and “Knowing My Emotions” patches.
  • Making Friends
    • Brownie troop leaders and caregivers, listen up! Our Making Friends badge program is your Brownies’ ticket to friendship success. From mastering introductions to showing the people in their lives they care and, of course, having a blast together, we’ve got Brownies covered!

Girl Scouts Mental Wellness Programs for Adults:

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA)
    • Created for council staff, troop leaders, and volunteers, YMHFA delivers vital information to better support youth mental well-being and address common mental health and substance use challenges. Don’t miss out on this amazing resource!
  • Mental Wellness 101
    • Attention troop leaders and adult volunteers! This training program equips you with the knowledge and tools to promote mental wellness within the Girl Scout community. So important!
To learn more about our programs, this data, or to sign up for Girl Scouts, head to Join the conversation on social media. Tag us @girlscouts.