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EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.6 Mechanisms of early detection and signposting of young people facing health risks

Last update: 27 March 2024
On this page
  1. Policy framework
  2. Stakeholders
  3. Guidance to stakeholders
  4. Target groups
  5. Funding

Policy framework

Early detection mechanisms are applied locally through statutory services implemented by municipalities such as youth health stations and school health services, or primary health care services. In schools, priority is given to universal prevention activities that are comprehensively integrated into a learning environment, while the implementation of curricular school-based prevention programmes is decreasing. Programmes to integrate parents into prevention activities are also supported.

The National Plan for children and young people's mental health for the period 2019-2024 covered in 7.5 Mental health contains both health-promoting, preventative and treatment-oriented measures. 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. 


Municipal services are usually the arenas that youth meet adults that can detect and accommodate to potential health risks. The front-line services may then refer to specialists or longer-term follow-up care/support, should it be required or requested by the youth themselves. Stakeholders include:

  • School teachers and personnel
  • Social workers
  • Youth workers (particularly in youth clubs/youth houses, and organizational/volunteer work)
  • School nurses
  • Youth health station and sexual health stations
  • Primary health care services/General practitioners

Guidance to stakeholders

The Directorate of Health develops guides for comprehensive patient care for specific diagnoses or groups of patients, national professional advice to improve quality and ensure comprehensive patient care, national guidelines linked to statutory duties in the municipalities and the provision of services. Examples specific for young people in the area of early detection and intervention are:

The Directorate of Health is also responsible for, a comprehensive national online resource for stakeholders working in the area of prevention and early detection. The website is meant to:

  • Be an up-to-date national knowledge base for substance abuse prevention and preventative health work, including early detection and intervention among children and youth
  • Provide experience and research-based knowledge and recognized strategies to practitioners
  • Function as an arena for current debates in the field
  • Communicate news, current debates, present existing initiatives and highlight effective strategies in the field
  • Be the gateway for up to date overview of reports, public documents, courses and conferences related to the field
  • Professionals that implement substance abuse prevention and health promotion work, including early detection and intervention (e.g., teachers, health and social workers, voluntary organizations, youth workers)
  • Researchers and students
  • Policy and management decision makers responsible for substance abuse prevention and health promotion

Target groups

As there is no overall policy or legal framework the target groups depend on the specific intervention. Target groups may include:

  • Youth vulnerable to exclusion, discrimination or bullying
  • Youth from low income families
  • Families where domestic violence and/or drug abuse has been present
  • Domestic and/or sexual abuse survivors
  • Youth with disabilities
  • Youth who display tendencies of isolation, recidivism, or criminal behaviour.


Municipal services usually receive funding in bulks, meaning there are no separate budget posts on mechanisms of early detection and signposting of young people facing risks. Detection and prevention measures and efforts are usually integrated as a part of larger measures and efforts targeting youth. 

The Directorate for Health provides several grants to support substance abuse prevention and preventative health work, including early detection and intervention among children and youth. Beneficiaries of these grant schemes are:

  • Municipalities.
  • County Municipalities.
  • Voluntary organizations and NGOs.
  • Foundations
  • Private actors or businesses.

The type of activities supported vary greatly but examples are:

  • Coordinating functions/staff that help youth access and utilize already existing services.
  • Specific programmes and/or activities containing well-being, preventive, or treatment measures/initiatives towards youth health.
  • Support to youth organizations working with youth health (youth representation/participation, and activities).
  • Measures that support and educate youth workers.