7.8 Current debates and reforms
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Forthcoming policy developments
The government (from 2019) has formulated a memorandum of understanding in cooperation with its three supporting parties. The paper contains several elements focusing 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 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 – the action plan is described in section 7.4. Among other things, the government and a number of parties agreed in the Finance Bill 2020 to increase the price of cigarettes, cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and smokeless tobacco products. They also agreed to introduce a tax on nicotine-containing liquids for e-cigarettes. In addition to this, they agreed to allocate DKK 5 million every year from 2020-2023 to an enhanced control effort regarding the illegal sale of tobacco to minors. 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.
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 Finance Act 2020, DKK 600 million is allocated annually to permanently improve psychiatric care.
In the Finance Act 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.