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EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.5 Mental health

Last update: 27 March 2024
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  1. National strategy(ies)
  2. Improving the mental health of young people

National strategy(ies)

The Storting approved The National Plan for children and young people's mental health for the period 2019-2024 [Prop. 121 S (2018–2019) Opptrappingsplan for barn og unges psykiske helse (2019–2024)] in January 2020.

The plan covers measures to ensure that more children and young people between 0-25 experience good mental health and a good quality of life, and that those who need it should receive appropriate and effective treatment. The plan contains both health-promoting, preventative and treatment-oriented measures. The plan is drawn up in collaboration between the Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Ministry of Children and Families, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Ministry of Culture and Equality, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

The implementation of the plan is ongoing. Among measures that have been particularly prioritized is the development of a new national and cross-sectoral guideline for mental health work for children and young people. The purpose of a guideline is to clarify and give recommendations about the division of responsibilities and tasks and expectations for interaction across services, levels and sectors. In 2023, the Norwegian Directorate of Health published a national guideline on mental health work for children and young people. 

Improving the mental health of young people

  • Some municipalities have built up good low-threshold services for early intervention and follow-up of children and young people with mental health problems and incipient drug problems. However, many municipalities still lack easily accessible services for children and young people that can offer early intervention without referral or long waiting times. The Directorate of Health was in 2022 commissioned by the government to assess, develop and pilot a low-threshold municipal service for children and young people in the municipalities with mental health problems and incipient drug problems.
  • Children and young people with serious and long-term mental health and substance abuse challenges need support from several services in different sectors. In addition, many of these children and young people lack the necessary support systems to access the services they are entitled to, and may not receive the follow-up and treatment they need. Work has therefore been initiated to develop interdisciplinary outreach teams for children and young people with complex assistance needs, through piloting of FACT (Flexible Assertive Community Treatment ) for young people aged 12-25 years. In 2022, NOK 8.5 million was allocated by the Government for the development, implementation and evaluation of FACT for young people.
  • In 2022, NOK 3.1 million was allocated for work on preventing unnecessary use of antidepressants and sleeping pills among children and young people. This includes the development of National guidelines for the use of psychotropic drugs in children and young people, assess the need for quality indicators which can be used to measure safe and good drug treatment, data collection and produce information on psychotropic drugs for patients, relatives and healthcare personnel.

Other top-level measures::

  • National strategy for young people’s health 2016 – 2021 [#Ungdomshelse – regjeringens strategi for ungdomshelse 2016-2021] sets out a number of goals to promote the mental health of youth in public health work:
    • Mental health should be equated with physical health and included as an equal part of the local public health work aimed at children and young people
    • All children and young people should feel belonging to a community
    • Fewer young people should experience body pressure
    • Increase the knowledge level of youth about the importance of sleep for health and school performance
    • Students should experience good health and coping skills
  • The national programme for public health [Folkeheseprogrammet] run by the Directorate of Health which aims to strengthen mental health and substance abuse prevention as part of the municipalities’ public health work, as well as raising the municipalities' capacity in developing, implementing and evaluating knowledge-based measures.
  • The establishment of a national grant scheme administered by the Directorate of Health to promote good health and well-being among students and prevent problems related to drug use. The grant scheme will promote new thinking, collaboration and knowledge sharing on preventive substance abuse and mental health work for students. The scheme will be used to follow up the findings in the Student Health and Well-Being Survey’ (SHoT)  which maps students' health and well-being and which is Norway's largest student survey on the topic. Universities, colleges and vocational colleges as well as student organizations can apply for grants when there is a cooperation agreement with the student union on the specific project / initiative. In addition, the ANSA student organization for Norwegian students abroad is eligible.
  • In March 2020 Statistics Norway (SSB) conducted a national survey on Quality of Life. The main purpose of the survey was to get knowledge on Norwegian’s quality of life, and study differences between population groups. Questions on general satisfaction with life, satisfaction with different areas of life, optimism for the future, general engagement, management of life, social relations and positive and negative feelings were asked in the survey.