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EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.5 Mental health

Last update: 30 March 2022
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  1. National strategy(ies)
  2. Improving the mental health of young people

National strategy

In Denmark, equality in health (care) is considered pivotal to enjoying a standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in society. However, there is no strategy on equality in health. Rather, equality in health (care) is a fundamental underlying principle in all measures in the Danish healthcare system.

The Ministry of Health is currently working on a comprehensive 10-year plan to permanently improve psychiatric care.

The plan is based on a professional draft made by the Danish Health Authority, the National Board of Social Services and a large number of organisations and builds upon a foundation of permanent Finance Act funds (DKK 600 million annually) and concrete funding of certain parts of psychiatric care through specific appropriations (e.g. an extension of Lifeline's (Livslinien) opening hours and capacity).

Action plan for the psychiatric field 2018-2025

In September 2018, the former government launched an action plan for psychiatry up until 2025. As of June 2019, the action plan is no longer in effect, but many initiatives in the action plan are currently being implemented.

The title of the action plan is ‘We Accomplish Together. An Overall Action Plan for Psychiatry up until 2025’ (Vi løfter i fællesskab. En samlet handlingsplan for psykiatrien frem mod 2025). It was, among other things, based on a rise in Danes with mental problems. In the national health profile survey from 2017, one out of five people in the 16–24-year age group experiences poor mental well-being.


In the action plan, the government established 43 initiatives divided in six focus areas:

  • More people are reached with early and accessible measures
  • The competences of the staff are upgraded
  • The quality in social psychiatry is improved
  • The most ill patients receive better and intensive treatment
  • More coherence in the course of treatment
  • More research and innovation

In the action plan, the government established 43 initiatives divided in six focus areas:

  • By 2025, the share of young people with poor mental health must be reduced by 25%
  • By 2025, the use of force in psychiatric treatments must be reduced by 50% compared to the 2017 level.
  • By 2025, the number of people with poor mental health trying to commit suicide must be reduced.
  • By 2025, the number of acute readmissions of psychiatric patients must be reduced by 15%.
  • By 2025, the number of psychiatric patients who were in employment 1 month before the hospitalisation and again 6 months after the hospitalisation must be increased by 10%.
  • More people who are subject to a measure regarding social problems or psychiatric difficulties in the Act on Social Services (Lov om social service, LBK nr 1287 af 28/08/2020) must be in education or employment.

The target group was, amongst others, young people with mental problems.


Improving the mental health of young people

In 2018, the minister for health established a youth panel to promote mental health among young people. The panel had 10 members in the 20–27-year age group. The panel has held two meetings and four workshops, which resulted in nine recommendations to the minister for health. See section 5.3

In June 2018, the government set up a cross-disciplinary national stress panel. The panel was a cooperation between five ministries and a minister without portfolio: the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Employment, The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior (now the Ministry of Social Affairs and Senior Citizens), the Ministry of Children and Education, the Minister for equal opportunities and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. In April 2019, the panel presented 12 actions aimed at preventing stress in the population.


In the 2019–2022 Rate Adjustment Pool Agreement (Satspuljeaftalen) within the area of health, young people’s mental health is in focus in the following funding allocations:

The counselling offer Headspace targets young people in the 12–25-year age group with emerging mental health problems. Headspace is a free and anonymous offer for young people who need someone to talk too. Young people can phone, send an e-mail, chat, or drop by without an appointment. The idea behind Headspace is to establish one point of entry for counselling, and Headspace can guide and counsel the young person regarding municipal or regional offers. Furthermore, the idea behind Headspace is to help young people with problems before the problems become insurmountable or demand a measure in the social system or the health system. With the 2019–2022 rate adjustment pool, an external evaluation of the Headspace initiative will be funded as well as the establishment of more Headspace centres. The total funding in the 2019–2022 period is DKK 57.5 million.

The Student Counselling Service in higher education receives DKK 10 million in operating aid in the 2019–2022 period. The counselling service offers social, psychological, and psychiatric counselling and treatment, and the counselling service helps young people complete their studies.

Moreover, as of the academic year 2019/2020, the Ministry of Children and Education has included student well-being in their quality supervision of general upper secondary education programmes. The objective of the quality supervision is to identify education institutions with persistent quality challenges and with a need for special measures and follow-up in relation to students’ academic- and social well-being.

The following six indicators are included in the quality supervision:

  • General well-being
  • Academic well-being
  • Social well-being
  • Learning environment
  • Pressure and worries
  • Bullying

A survey among all upper secondary students examines the six indicators. Survey results detect underperforming upper secondary education institutions so that support and monitoring measures are applied in order to enhance student well-being.  

The quality supervision is funded by the Ministry of Children and Education.


From 2010 to 2017, the number of children and young people in contact with the psychiatric system increased by 53%. In the municipalities, there is a need for strengthened measures in order to prevent and treat children and young people in the 13–25-year age group with mental problems as well as parents to young people with emerging mental health problems. Therefore, the rate adjustment pool funds a strengthening of the early, preventive measures in the municipalities aimed at young people with mental problems in the 13–25-year age group. The objective of the increased measures is to help young people in the least intrusive way and with a coherent measure that allows the young people to have a connection to their everyday life, school, friends, and leisure activities. The measure must have a central coordinating function regarding other relevant services in the municipalities, psychiatric system, in youth education programmes, and in civil society, etc. The National Board of Social Services and the participating municipalities implement the initiatives. The measure is funded with DKK 60.7 million.

In connection with the funding of a strengthened measure targeting the 13–25-year age group mentioned above, the Rate Adjustment Pool Agreement allocates DKK 120.4 million for strengthening the PPR measure (pedagogical-psychological counselling) in the municipalities. The funding covers a mapping of knowledge and practice. Based on the evaluations from the mapping, the funding covers the implementation of new measures.

Children and young people who grow up with parents with mental illness are a vulnerable group who may need extra attention. The group is at risk of a failure to thrive, because they often keep their worries and problems to themselves. The rate adjustment pool (satspulje) funds a national competence centre for measures for aimed at children who have parents with mental illness. The task of the centre is to collect and distribute knowledge in the area in order to strengthen the competences of professionals working with the target group. The centre has been allocation DKK 11 million.

The Rate Adjustment Pool Agreement for 2019–2022 supplements a pilot project with free psychological treatment for 18–20-year-olds (see rate adjustment pool agreement 2018–2021 below). The rate adjustment pool covers free psychological treatment for 21-year-olds with light to moderate depression or anxiety up until 2021. The funding is DKK 18.4 million.