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Report on the mental health of young men in the Nordic countries

Boy with a tablet in a dark room. Photo: Nick Fancher

New Nordic report highlights young men’s mental ill-health encompassing education, the workplace and the pandemic.

Mental ill-health is a significant social and public health problem in the Nordic countries. Multiple studies also show that mental health problems have increased in the Nordic countries in recent years, particularly among young people. Studies show that there are also gender differences when it comes to mental ill-health and that gender, sexuality and masculinity norms play an important role in how young men manage and experience their mental health.

A new research overview from NIKK, Nordic Information on Gender, focuses in particular on knowledge about young men’s mental health in relation to current conditions and challenges in education and training and the workplace in the Nordic countries. The study also highlights knowledge about the impacts of the pandemic on young men’s mental health, where increased unemployment, distance teaching and isolation have risked reinforcing negative spirals in mental well-being.

Elin Engström, Director of NIKK, believes that the results help to highlight the relationship between mental health, education and working life:

Schools and workplaces are important places where young men can come into contact with health promotion and support, and they can provide a sense of belonging. At the same time, the review shows that much of the mental ill health can be rooted in poor experiences of the education system and poor working environment. It is important that we look at the types of norms and beliefs that are reproduced in our Nordic educational institutions and workplaces and provide personalised support to those who need it.

The study also highlights the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for young men’s mental health, as increased unemployment, distance learning and isolation have risked reinforcing a negative development of mental health.

Report: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny

A new survey of the affiliation of Nordic men with misogynistic internet communities shows that around 850 Nordic young men are active in such forums. The report highlights that the derogatory language about and views on women in these communities are spreading to mainstream social platforms.

Based on more than 100,000 misogynistic posts and comments on internet communities such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, the Nordic report The angry internet has analysed misogynistic communities in the Nordic Region. The report, by the Centre for Digital Youth Care, shows that internet forums exist that bring young Nordic men together in fraternities that incite hatred towards women and gender equality. The report finds no indications that any of the Nordic users will act physically on the basis of their attitudes as has been the case in other countries.        

“The report provides new and important knowledge about how misogyny exists in various forms online. It shows how some young men put themselves in opposition to society and congregate around values and norms that are directly at odds with gender equality and women’s rights, which are both absolutely central to our society,” says Peter Hummelgaard, Denmark’s Minister for Employment.

The report The angry internet and its findings will be presented at an international digital launch with presentations by the report’s authors and Nordic experts the European Commissioner for Gender Equality, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, and the CEO and founder of Promondo and the global campaign MenCare.    The study has been conducted by the Centre for Digital Youth Care for the Nordic Council of Ministers as part of the Danish presidency in 2020.

Updated 1 December 2020