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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Denmark

Denmark

7. Health and Well-Being

7.8 Current debates and reforms

On this page
  1. Forthcoming policy developments
  2. Ongoing debates

 

Forthcoming policy developments

The government (from 2019) has formulated an ‘understanding paper’ together with its three supporting parties. The paper contains several elements that focus on young people’s health and well-being. By way of introduction, the paper establishes that one of modern society’s most serious challenges is young people’s mental health. The paper pronounces that the new government will pursue a policy that makes Denmark the best country to grow up in.

The government will formulate a national action plan for mental health and assess the education system in order to identify initiatives that strengthen children and young people’s well-being and reduce the ‘culture of performance’. This includes a revision of the grading scale, other forms of examining, and an evaluation of the admission system. The new government will remove the cap on education, which implies that there is a limit to how many higher educations a young person can fulfil.

The government will establish an initiative to reduce the number of smokers, especially young smokers. As part of the government platform, the government will increase the price on tobacco. In September 2019, the government presented an action plan to prevent children and young people from smoking. Among other things, the government suggests an increase in the prices on tobacco, a smoking ban at all education institutions (including vocational education and training colleges and production schools – see section 7.4), and a ban on tobacco commercials.

The government will strengthen psychiatric care with a 10-year plan. The action plan will set the long-term direction for mental health treatment in Denmark. It will especially focus on prevention and stronger coherence between general practice, psychiatric hospital services (including outpatient treatment) and social psychiatry. Furthermore, children and young people as well as people with both mental illness and drug and/or alcohol abuse will be given a special focus in the plan.

Lastly, the government will strengthen measures that include more socially marginalised children and young people in leisure activities and sports. The government will extend the measure with a leisure pass for socially marginalised children and young people.

 

In January 2020, a majority in parliament agreed to reduce young people’s use of laughing gas. The agreement includes several elements:

  • It is illegal to sell laughing gas to young people under the age of 18
  • The agreement introduces a limit to the amount of laughing gas private people can purchase
  • Online retailers of laughing gas are required to verify the purchaser’s age
  • The agreement introduces a limit to the number of laughing gas sales outlets
  • An increase in the level of fines for offenders of the new agreement

Ongoing debates

Young people’s mental health has been discussed in the media as well as among politicians for some years, which can be seen from the cross-ministerial national stress panel and the former minister of health’s youth panel. Among other things, the panels emphasise a culture of performance and no room for making mistakes, which put pressure on young people. A survey conducted by the Danish Youth Council confirms this picture.

The minister of higher education and science is worried about young people’s well-being. The question of why so many young people feel stressed, lonely, and are not able to thrive is high on the minister’s agenda. That is why a new unit in the Ministry of Higher Education and Science has been established. The unit’s objective is to focus on young people’s well-being.

In the government’s annual presentation of next year’s bills, the government has proposed an amendment of the Act on Prohibition on Tobacco Commercials, Act on Tobacco Products and other acts related to the use of tobacco products. The amendment implements the government’s action plan on children and young people’s smoking.

 

In the Finance Bill 2021, the following policies are relevant for young people’s health and well-being:

  • Free psychological treatment for young people in the 18-24-year age group with light to moderate depression or anxiety. The policy is an extension and continuation of a project financed with the former rate adjustment pool, see section 7.5. DKK 22.8 million is allocated in 2021, and from 2022 DKK 47.2 million is allocated annually.
  • Funding of the organisation LGBT+ Denmark. DKK 2.5 million is allocated in 2021.
  • Funding of the organisation Headspace in the 2021-2024 period. Total funding is DKK 21.4 million. Headspace supports young people with mental health problems, see section 7.5. The objective is to make Headspace a national service.