Mental health amongst young people in Denmark

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Nynne von Undall Snebang
  • Cecilie Kinch
  • Ditte Maria Berner Søndergaard
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
There has never been the amount of opportunities for young people in Denmark as we see today. However, the youth are feeling more stressed and overwhelmed than ever before, and anxiety and depressive disorders are spreading. There are a rising number of young people who both claim to suffer from mental illness and who are diagnosed with psychiatric diagnoses. In a report from 2021 by the national research and Analysis Center for Welfare (VIVE) they found that 40% of 19-year-old girls and 20% of 19-year-old boys meant that they had a mental disorder.
This thesis seeks to understand why so many young people in Western society and Denmark in particular are suffering from mental illness today. Based on the results from a study regarding this issue made by Katznelson and coworkers (2022), this thesis investigates the topic in relation to the high pace in society, the achievement culture, and psychologization. Regarding psychologization, the aim is to understand how psychologized language can affect how young people understand themselves and others. Besides this, a psychodynamic perspective is added to understand how individual factors influence young people’s tendency to develop mental illness. With this psychodynamic stance, the aim is to understand how the informant’s internal object relations affect how they view themselves in relation to other people around them and how this can influence their mental health.
Three semi-structured interviews are conducted to gain access to the youth’s experi- ence of being young in the society of Denmark. In the interviews, there is a phenom- enological and hermeneutic approach to get an insight into the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of the interviewed young people. The method of analysis is the interpre- tative phenomenological analysis (IPA), in which empirical themes are identified. This thesis finds that all of the informants experience that they either suffer from anxiety or depression or both mental disorders. They generally feel pressured by the demands, ideals, and high pace that are due to the current achievement culture. How- ever, it is different whether they experience that the demands come from within themselves or from society. This is a different discovery than was expected but the demands and ideals may be internalized from society into the individual. Further- more, it is found that individual factors in the form of the informant’s object relations influence how they feel about themselves and the people surrounding them and con-
sequently their mental health. These object relations can dictate how vulnerable they are to the achievement culture. Lastly, findings suggest that the informants have a tendency to be very aware of their thoughts and feelings and it is argued that this awareness can contribute to mental distress. Likewise, the informants understand themselves and others through diagnostic terms, and there is a risk that common hu- man feelings such as sadness can be viewed as a symptom of mental illness rather than a normal feeling.
Publication date1 Jun 2023
Number of pages113
ID: 532502259