Depression Levels in Nordic Countries and the Lessons To Be Learned

Depression Levels in Nordic Countries and the Lessons To Be Learned

Depression Levels in Nordic Countries and the Lessons To Be Learned – Nordic countries have been touted as some of the happiest countries in the world according to the UN’s Happiness Rankings. In countries like Finland, many citizens are happy and content. They feel safe, have high levels of trust, and there are low levels of inequality. Joblessness is fairly low, there’s a strong welfare system, and there’s access to good healthcare. But that’s not what depression is about. Many wonder if placing so much emphasis on happiness and optimism is hurting citizens by making it difficult to identify and accept depressive symptoms.


Although many Nordic countries rank high in the happiness ranks, there are still individuals living with depression. Anyone who is trying to live up to these countries’ happy reputations is at a disadvantage. They may not feel safe or comfortable expressing their situation or seeking help for their depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. In the 1990s, Finland had to launch a massive campaign to help curb suicide. While the incidences of suicide have fallen considerably, they are still above the European average. This is rather telling, as it shows that people weren’t able to get the treatment and support they needed to manage their depression and overall mental health. It’s within your power to get help for a loved one who is struggling with mental illness. No one should have to bear that weight alone.

The Demographics

Reports are showing that young people under the age of 30 and elders over the age of 80 would define themselves as “struggling” or “suffering.” People in this age group seem to be experiencing more depressive symptoms and are exhibiting a link between substance use and mental illness. The economy is rapidly changing. Although this doesn’t mean that there are recessions and joblessness, it does mean that the digitization of careers and the move towards self-employment, PRN work, and the gig economy are new factors and pressures to deal with. Social media is another complexity of society that is impacting mental health. The ability to be everywhere at one time can be overwhelming and very sobering at times. And for those who are already depressed, the urge to make comparisons is often fed by social media.

The Lessons

Individuals in these happy Nordic countries who are unable to live up to the stereotype often find it difficult to find their place and find support. When the living standard is high, people can feel unseen and wrong for battling with depression. The main lesson here is to make sure that support is available. Taboos and the stigma regarding depression have to be broken to truly help those who are struggling. Online platforms are opening up to give people with depression a way to find treatment options, national crisis hotlines are more widely advertised, and even public petitions are popping up, pushing for better support options.

The more people talk about it, the more solutions that will come to light. As more people begin to understand the severity and the impacts of mental illness, the louder the cry for mental health awareness initiatives. Communities are stronger when all of their members can be supported in ways that will best suit every individual’s needs.

Poppy Watt

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