New Survey Explores the Impact of Kindness on Youth Mental Health

May 03, 2021

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Kindness not only helps young people get through tough times — an act of kindness can help save a life, according to a new survey, Kindness Is Action, released by Born This Way Foundation and The Harris Poll.

Data from the survey of more than 2,000 U.S.-based youth (ages 13-24) identified how young people define kindness, the impact of kindness on mental wellness, and how young people are using kindness to cope with the immeasurable challenges facing our world today. 

Nearly all (93%) youth said that kindness helped them move forward in the past year. In fact, 79% of respondents said that they want to be a kinder person, proving the power of kindness in times of despair.

Other notable findings include:

  • Most young people say that kindness boosts their mental wellness, whether receiving it from others (73%), seeing it in the world (71%), or just being kinder to themselves (74%). 
  • Parents/guardians are the most common source (63%) of inspiration for youth to be kind, especially for 13-17 year olds. A majority (79%) of youth surveyed said that someone going out of their way to show that they care would have an impact on their mental wellness.
  • There is a kindness divide. Some youth experience less kindness than others, potentially impacting their mental wellness. For example, those who are less financially secure, older (18-24), and/or LGBTQ+ are less likely than their counterparts to say that they regularly see kindness in the world. White youth are more likely than Black, Indigenous, and youth of color to say they experience or receive acts of kindness.

My teenage sons learned first-hand that kindness is a buoyant force. We moved across the country and away from our friends and family in the summer of 2020. Virtual learning proved nearly impossible for forging new friendships. We had (and continue to have) many difficult conversations about loneliness and feeling disconnected. I reminded my sons as often as possible that their feelings are valid, and I tried to be open about my own struggles on tough days. Almost two-thirds (68%) of youth said that they noticed a greater willingness among family and friends to speak about their mental wellness.

As the Kindness Is Action results showed us, a majority of respondents (62%) agreed that kindness is doing something for someone else without expecting anything in return. Little acts of kindness can make a big difference in mental well-being, according to 94% of young people.

My family and I try to focus on acts of service, and when we can, sharing goods with those around us. While we feel a range of emotions each and every day, trying to make a positive impact, however small,  in our community by volunteering in a food bank or collecting books for free community libraries helps our spirits stay afloat. 

For the full Kindness Is Action report, please click here, and for wellness resources and anchors, please visit

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