– I would like to say that being lonely is not a mental health challenge. It must be solved by being with others. But loneliness can lead to mental health challenges. It is important to distinguish between what is awkward and difficult, and what is illness, says Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H).
She has invited Dagbladet to Teams together with the other party leaders in the government, and psychologist Peder Kjøs.
Kjøs will lead an express selection that will start work already this week. The deadline is April 30, so the government will receive proposals for tools that can be included in the revised national budget, which will be adopted before the summer.
The research: No.
Turnover at Vinmonopolet is up 40 percent during the corona pandemic, people are sitting in home offices, young people have home school and leisure activities are closed.
But is there an increase in drug use and mental illness? No, is the answer from the research – so far.
– There is a “mismatch” between what we get from input from practitioners who are out in real life, and what we have research evidence for. That is why it is important to have an expert committee to find out what the situation is, and what we can actually do, says Solberg.
– We are very grateful that Peder will lead an important committee. I hope we get a more cohesive experience of the challenges, the Prime Minister continues.
A big “but”
Psychologist Peder Kjøs is unsure whether mental public health has deteriorated during the pandemic.
– I am concerned about the resilience of society. Many do very well because we are part of a very integrated society with high trust. I am not so worried about the large general population, says Kjøs.
But it is a big “but”.
– There has been interesting research on alcohol use. Those who are well drink less. But those who are exposed drink more. For those who have difficulty, there is more stress, more drinking – and it goes beyond the children. We do not have the enormous social differences in Norway, but we must take care of the vulnerable now, says Kjøs, and is followed up by Liberal Party leader Guri Melby:
– A year of tight measures is approaching. It’s a very long time in a 13 – year – old’s life. We know there are some critical points in children and adolescents’ upbringing. I am afraid that the corona year for many was exactly the year they needed help to move on, but then you get many negative experiences, says Melby.
At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a clear decline in reports of concern to the child welfare service. Now there is a small increase, but it is not certain that some of the parts describe how Norwegian children actually feel.
– It is also a question of how many eyes the kids see. We must be prepared for a situation when August and the start of school come, that more messages will come. Many people who had a hard time before, can have it extra tough now. But they are difficult to reach, says KrF leader and Minister for Children and Families Kjell Ingolf Ropstad.
– It is a very bad sign that there are fewer reports of concern. We will definitely discover an undercurrent of undetected problems. It is always easy to come up with general measures. But we must be able to find measures that hit those most affected, says Kjøs.