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About Mental Health

Mental health is about how we feel about ourselves and how we cope with our lives. Mental health says something about our feelings and our ability to understand them and relate to them.

We often define mental health as the ability to master our thoughts, emotions, and behaviour, as well as adapt to changes and deal with adversity. Mental and physical health are intertwined. A healthy lifestyle with enough sleep, exercise, and nutritious food is important for both mental and physical health. When we experience physical problems, they can influence our mental state. And when we are not feeling well mentally, we can often feel it in the body.

What is Normal?

It is completely normal that life has many twists and turns. We might be feeling well on some days and not so well on the other. All people experience major or minor problems from time to time. It is normal and natural to sometimes have difficult thoughts and emotions. We can be feeling sad, depressed, aggressive, or excited, but as long as it does not influence our everyday life over a long period of time, we do not call it a problem or illness.

If our mental health is largely reduced over a long period of time so that it interferes with our everyday life and prevents us from having a good life, we can start talking about mental problems or distress.

We have included more information about mental health into our student booklet “Life and Stuff”. In this booklet, we consider the following topics: self-esteem, self-confidence, body image, and thoughts and emotions, as well as mental health and substance abuse. Below you can read more about experiencing grief, which is a natural part of life.

You can find more info about VIP's booklets and the option to order them here

What is Good Mental Health?

Arne Holte from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has put together the following points about what it means to have good mental health:

  1. “I am who I am, and that’s good enough”
  2. “Fortunately, there is someone who needs me”
  3. “There is at least something that I am good at”
  4. “I know where I belong”
  5. “I can think, feel, and express myself without being afraid”
  6. “There is someone who knows me, someone who cares about me, someone who I trust to take care of me if needed”
  7. “I have someone to share my thoughts and feelings with”

Young People and Grief

Major crises are part of life, and experiencing grief is a normal human condition. Grief is obviously not a mental illness, but as with any life crisis, it is important to take it seriously and give grief some time and space. We have to accept that we are not going to live to our full extent for some time, and it is possible that we might need some help to cope with our everyday life at such a time of crisis. If you do not give grief some space, work through it, or talk to someone about it, a life crisis might develop into a psychological problem.

Grief is often described as the reaction we have when we lose someone or something we love. It is common to think that grief is the worst just after the loss, but the majority of young people say that it took some time before they really understood what had happened and the life consequences that followed.

We often talk about the outer an inner emotions related to the loss. On the outside, many young people might look like they have gotten over the loss quite quickly. They go to school as usual, they are out with their friends, and they probably rarely talk about what happened. But there is also an inner process where young people are trying to comprehend what happened and adapt to the loss in terms of their feelings. Sometimes the feelings can be triggered by something that happens in everyday life, or they might come out on their own in form of tears, anger, of self-reproach.

You might feel more sensitive on some days and less sensitive on the other, or some events might make the grief come forward. We often say that grief comes in waves. It can be very confusing for both the person who experiences grief and the people around them. “I thought you had gotten over it by now” is a phrase that many people hear when a grief wave comes long after the loss.

You can read more about grief and crisis in this article at ung.no — Please note that the info is in norwegian​​

Abuse and Addiction

Addiction is also a mental illness. Substance abuse precedes addiction and can impact both physical and mental health. You can read more about mental health and intoxicants,  as well as substance abuse and addiction, on page 11 and 28 of our student booklet “That’s life” (2017).

You can find more info about VIP's booklets and the option to order them here

Below you will find additional information about cannabis and doping, which is not included in the student booklet:


Cannabis (Hashish, Marijuana)

Over 10 % of the first-year students of Norwegian upper secondary schools say they have used cannabis at least once during the last year (ungdata.no). Previous generations have also experimented with hashish. However, because of genetic selection, the product that is smoked today has become many times stronger than 20 years ago. This means that the brain is now exposed to more damage.

Read more about this in the article “Cannabis is more dangerous now than before”. — Please note that the article is in norwegian

Some people experience acute states of confusion which is directly related to the use of the substance. Cannabis has an adverse effect on the brain, especially on short-term memory and the ability to complete sequential thoughts. This is exactly the type of brain capacity you need to learn and remember what you have learned. Developing persecution mania, delusions, and hallucinations (psychosis) after using cannabis one or several times are examples of some serious consequences of the drug.

Doping and Mental Health

Doping is the use of performance-improving products and substances that are prohibited in Norway. The main groups of doping products are anabolic steroids, stimulants, and growth hormone.
In addition to serious physical consequences, the use of illegal doping products causes implications for mental health.

The use of doping causes damage to the liver, heart, and reproductive organs. It can lead to hair loss, acne, sterility, and development of breasts on the male body. It also affects mental health in the form of increased aggressiveness, depressed mood, and major mood swings. Additionally, the use of these illegal substances also leads to extreme preoccupation with body, diet, and exercise.

Antidoping Norge (Anti-Doping Norway) works for pure sport and a doping-free society. You can call or email their helpline Dopingkontakten to ask any doping-related questions you might have. You can choose to be anonymous if you want to.


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