Sun, Sep 02, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Nordic Council report looks at ‘significant minority’ who defy top happiness ratings

By Sarah Boseley  /  The Guardian

Social media might also play a part in the unhappiness of the young, he said. A previous government study had shown high levels of loneliness in young people. Many say they are alone when they would like to be with the people they see on Facebook or Instagram apparently having a good time.

Taking into account all age groups, poor general health was most often reported by those who appear to be struggling or suffering. Poor mental health came second, followed by inequality of income, unemployment and limited social contact, which the authors used as a proxy for loneliness.

Older men who were unhappy were less likely to see family and friends than older women.

Among the young, mental health is the biggest factor: The report said it has worsened in Nordic countries.

“In Norway, for example, an increase of 40 percent was seen over a five-year period in the proportion of young people seeking help with mental health problems. In Denmark, 18.3 percent of young people between 16 and 24 years suffer from poor mental health,” the report said.

This number comprises an average of the 12.9 percent recorded for men and as much as 23.8 percent for women.

“Mental health problems among young people manifest themselves in the form of stress, depression, anxiety, self-harm, consumption of antidepressants and, in extreme cases, suicide,” the report said.

The latter is a particularly big problem in Finland, which otherwise ranks as the happiest country, according to the World Happiness Report 2018.

In Finland, suicide is responsible for one-third of all deaths among 15-to-24-year-olds.”

Ulf Andreasson, a senior advisor in the policy analysis and statistics unit of the Nordic Council and an author of the report, said the researchers wanted to look further, because everybody knows people who are not happy, in spite of the image.

“We also had a feeling that being unhappy in the Nordic countries perhaps comes with some kind of stigma,” he said. “If everybody is happy and I’m unhappy, is it OK to give voice to that? We wanted to destigmatize being unhappy.”

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