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EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.1 General context

Last update: 26 March 2024
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  1. Main trends in the health conditions of young people
  2. Main concepts

Main trends in the health conditions of young people

Ungdata, a cross national collection scheme designed to conduct young people surveys at the municipal level, and which is financed through the national budget, is regarded as the most comprehensive source of information on adolescent health and well-being at the municipal and national levels. Data is used in municipal planning and developmental work related to public health and preventive measures aimed at young people.

Ungdata covers various aspects of young people's lives such as relationship with parents and friends, leisure activities, health issues, local environment, well-being, and school issues. The surveys also include questions about tobacco and drug use, and participation in various forms of antisocial behaviour such as violence and bullying.

Data for 2022 show that even after almost two years of the pandemic Norwegian youth are doing well. The vast majority report that they have a good quality of life. There are some new developments, that began before the pandemic, that are worth mentioning. Only during the last 4-5 years, the proportion of pupils at secondary level who are involved in organized out of school activities, has been reduced by seven to eight percentage points. The decline applies to sports, religious activities and cultural activities. Data also shows that starting in 2015 and for every consecutive year young people are increasingly reporting that they are bored at school, and the number of youth skipping school is increasing. A third area that has changed in the same period, is drug use. Even though there is no increase in the use of intoxicants, including alcohol, among adolescents the proportion of high school students who have used cannabis, as well as other narcotic substances, has increased. This may point in changings patterns of drug use.

2016 literature review published by the Centre for Welfare and Labour Research, OsloMet indicated that there has been an increase in mental health problems, especially among young girls and with a clearer increase in the 1990s than after the year 2000. The ‘Student Health and Well-Being Survey’ (SHoT) 2018 maps students' health and well-being in a broad sense, with an emphasis on psychosocial conditions. It is Norway's largest student survey on the topic. As many as 50,055 students responded to the SHoT 2018 survey. The survey is national and is carried out on behalf of the student associations SiTSiO and Sammen. Survey results also confirm an increasing trend of mental health issues among Norwegian students.However, ungdata for 2022 indicates that the increase in self-reported mental health problems has leveled off. 

Finally, the first national survey on child abuse and neglect among a representative sample of Norwegian 12-16-year-olds was completed in 2019. The Norwegian Ministry of Child and Family Affairs gave the Norwegian Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS) the task to carry out the survey. The study had a cross-sectional design and participants were recruited from schools. A total of 9240 adolescents participated in the study. The results indicate that children and adolescents are still not sufficiently protected against child abuse and neglect, and that some groups of children and adolescents are more at risk than others. Most of the youth who had been subjected to one type of violence or abuse had also experienced other forms of violence or abuse. Girls had more often been exposed to several types of violence, than boys. Only a minority of youth who were subjected to violence and abuse say that they have been in contact with health care services after the abuse had ended. 

The Norwegian Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS) published a report in 2023 that looked at the extent of violence and abuse in the Norwegian population. The report shows that violence and abuse is still a serious social problem in Norway. Women are particularly exposed to serious violence in close relationships and sexual violence, and it appears that such violence is increasing. Men are more exposed to physical violence than women. Victims often reported that they had experienced several types of violence and abuse, and there was a connection between being exposed in childhood and experiencing violence and abuse in adulthood.

Main concepts

The Norwegian government employs a broad definition of public health to include factors that directly or indirectly promote the health and well-being of the population, prevent mental and somatic illness, injury or suffering, or protect against health threats, and work for a more even distribution of factors that directly or indirectly affect health. Targeting young people’s health and well-being often fall under overall public health measures, but the current government health strategy #Young people health – the Norwegian Government’s strategy for young people health 2016 – 2021 [#Ungdomshelse – regjeringens strategi for ungdomshelse 2016-2021], focuses specifically on:

  • Health and poverty
  • Sports and volunteering
  • Bullying, prejudice and discrimination
  • Violence and abuse
  • Drugs tobacco and alcohol
  • Sexual health
  • Mental health
  • Young people health services, and the utility of digital platforms and services for young people