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Mental health identified as Norwegian public health challenge (Norway)

March 10, 2011

In a report that discusses strategies to boost health promotion efforts for public health, mental health is emphasized as a key public health challenge by the Norwegian Directorate of Health. The authors focus on both national and local health promotion implementation and include an entire chapter on mental health.

According to the report, Norway invested in mental health services for people with serious mental illness, complex problems and child and youth mental health through the Escalation Plan for Mental Health (1998-2008). As a result, the number of people receiving mental health services has more than doubled for adults, and child and youth mental health service coverage has increased as well. However, supply for mental health care still falls short of demand, exposing a gap in the plan. Prevention, early identification and treatment for people with less serious mental health issues need to be further developed.

The mental health chapter of the report provides a review of concepts and definitions associated with mental health and highlights key individual, group-level and environmental interventions targeted towards prevention. Environmental risk factors are identified related to unemployment, socioeconomic inequity, immigration and discrimination, unsupportive work and school environments, social isolation and inadequate social support, and physical inactivity. The report also details a number of interventions, including:

  • Adopting a policy stating that health personnel have a statutory obligation to monitor children of adult patients receiving treatment;
  • Creating a municipal mental health service team for children and youth who can be accessed directly without referral;
  • Implementing other municipal low-threshold services for early care of mental health issues;
  • Utilizing online therapy programs such as the Norwegian BluePages (general information on depression) and MoodGYM (an interactive cognitive behavioural therapy program);
  • Engaging social support and self-help groups for special problem areas to help achieve goals of social integration; and
  • Providing support for immigrant families to practice both immigrant and home country cultural skills.

See “Health Promotion — Achieving Good Health for All,” Norwegian Directorate of Health, October 2010, available at www.helsedirektoratet.no.

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