• Maria Baatz Olsen
  • Emma Carolina Jonsson
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
As more people experience mental health issues, we seek to understand the increase of psychological distress in young Danish adults from a societal perspective with regard to self-compassion and self-esteem.
The latest national health profile from the Danish National Board of Health shows a decrease in the Danes’ overall well-being. Alarmingly, young Danish people aged 16-24 are particularly distressed due to high levels of poor mental health and stress. This thesis will, therefore, examine the potential impact society has on young people’s self-compassion and self-esteem.
It is generally understood that the unique levels of an individual’s self-compassion and self-esteem play a major role towards their sensitivity to psychological distress but little attention is drawn to understand the connection that society plays in this matter. On the other hand, it is assumed that society plays an indisputable role in the alarming increase of psychological distress because of some major societal changes that have taken place within a short period. Examples of societal changes that may have contributed to the decrement of psychological well-being include: Traditions and social norms that have lost their impact on the individual's way of life, the Danish society has evolved from a welfare state to a more competitive oriented state, and several changes within the Danish education system.
We applied a mixed-method approach to examine the research question of this study, and the qualitative component will be the focus in this paper. The quantitative analysis is reported in another paper, and was conducted prior to the qualitative analysis. The quantitative analysis was based on correlation tests and we found that self- esteem and self-compassion both correlated strongly and negatively with psychological distress. The correlations indicate that these two personal characteristics may have a protective impact on psychological distress. Based on those results, we decided that self-compassion and self-esteem should be central perspectives in combination with a societal perspective for the qualitative component. By applying different methods, we can be more certain about the validity of the results.
In this paper, we examine psychological distress with regard to the society via seven interviews with respondents who also participated in the quantitative component of
the study. Additionally, we carry out a thematic analysis as a flexible method to analyze the qualitative data and find one superior theme called Pressure. This theme is reflected through five sub-themes: Expectations, Responsibilities, Constantly moving forward, Lack of appreciation, and Not feeling the pressure.
Based on our analysis, we discuss different topics related to our finding. For instance, how double-bind communication may take place between society and the individual and thereby contribute to psychological distress. We also discuss how self-deception can be a suitable way to handle the societal pressure. Further, we discuss how low levels of self-compassion and a fragile self-esteem may contribute to an increase in psychological distress, and this discussion leads to a final discussion of how society on the other side can have a protective impact on psychological distress. Our conclusion states that society contributes to the alarming increase of psychological distress by pressuring the individual and negatively influencing self-compassion and self-esteem, and thereby lessening their protective impact on psychological distress. However, society cannot solely explain the increase of psychological distress given an individual’s features such as self-compassion, self-esteem and self- deception may also influence the level of psychological distress.
LanguageDanish
Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages106
ID: 280193903