Mental health problems are on the rise, especially among young women. The ROCKWOOL Foundation Interventions Unit is currently in the introductory, exploratory phase of an intervention project in this field. In this phase we are seeking knowledge that can indicate new ways of improving mental health, and in particular mental health among young women.
The sharp increase recorded in poor mental health is based to a significant degree on information from self-reports in surveys. We are aware that the increase already seen may therefore be due to some extent to changes in the ways in which we talk about and ask about young people’s mental health.
We have entered into an agreement to work with the municipalities of Lejre and Kalundborg, and have received permission to interview a number of their personnel. We have also interviewed a number of young women of various ages, and have been given access to online communities. This work has given us better information about the dynamic factors that promote or hinder the development of mental health issues.
Why is the number of young people struggling with poor mental health seemingly still rising? We are attempting to get closer to an answer by comparing the trends in self-reported poor mental health with other measures of poor mental health in the available quantitative data, for example trends in the use of the health services and trends in diagnoses.
Through our efforts to understand and interpret the data and by having ongoing discussions of our interpretations with relevant experts, we are able to formulate a series of useful questions to which we can obtain answers from front-line practitioners working in our partner municipalities. The answers we obtain from our qualitative study can in turn suggest lines of enquiry which we can subsequently investigate in the data.
We expect to be able to present a number of working hypotheses in early 2020, providing us with guidelines for the next phase of the work, in which we will design and trial various approaches and solutions and then decide whether these seem promising.
I call them the ‘instrumental girls’. They have been systematically working out the school norms since they were little. The more chic and ‘cool’ they are, the more worried I am. For me, their mood is the first indicator of trouble.”
/ Student guidance counsellor
You do the best you can. For me, it needs to be perfect. But I’m never satisfied. Not even when I achieve my goals! But it’s a positive thing, you know, because it means that I’ve got a huge amount of drive. I love being busy. If you choose not to tackle something, it’s a sign of weakness. I’m always ill in the holidays.”
/ Female upper secondary school student
At the ROCKWOOL Foundation Interventions Unit, our initiatives are developed over four phases in which research, social innovation and knowledge of practice all interact, creating together the foundation for our programmes. In the first, exploratory phase, we draw on research findings to identify the areas where the need for innovation is greatest. It is also during this phase that we start working in the field, learning from the people for whom we seek to make improvements.
The most important work we do in this exploratory phase takes place when research, social innovation and the knowledge we have accumulated from practice all meet, reinforce and challenge one another. We establish working hypotheses and build up a deeper understanding of the field on the basis of the information that we have collected. Our aim is to identify areas with potential for improvements to be made or where it is relevant to develop and trial interventions in the next phase of the project. We cannot achieve this alone. Consequently, during the autumn of 2019 we are organising a number of small workshops, in order to open the door to outside influences and to give us the opportunity to challenge our assumptions and sharpen our focus.
We expect to be able to present a number of working hypotheses by early 2020, providing us with guidelines for the next phase of the work, in which we will design and trial various approaches and solutions and then decide whether these seem promising.
The Programme Leader, Annemette Krabbe, can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by telephone on +45 31 72 94 37.