Mental health in adolescents

Mental health in adolescents

This project is divided into two subprojects: 

  1. Personal and contextual factors explaining mental health in adolescents.
  2. Factors contributing to mental health and quality of life among siblings and parents after the loss of a child to cancer.


Adolescents smiling, illustration



Project 1:

Project 1:

- Personal and contextual factors explaining mental health in adolescents

Adolescence provides key opportunities to develop foundations for mental health and preventing mental health problems. In order to understand factors explaining adolescents’ mental health it is not sufficient to identify and diminish risks and problems but also necessary to investigate and facilitate positive individual and contextual resources. The school provides an important setting for health promoting initiatives aimed at the adolescent population.

The overall aim of the project is to understand which are the central personal and contextual factors for positive mental health in adolescents. Further, the aim is to investigate adolescents’ experiences of universal mental health promoting actions provided by school health services (mainly school nurses) in the school context. Participants in the project are adolescents in upper secondary schools (16-18 years) in Trondheim. The project uses mixed methods including survey and focus group interviews.

Ph.D project by Hanne Nissen Bjørnsen: 
Mental health literacy in health promotion

Mental health literacy (MHL) is a relatively new concept. It was coined in the nineties in Australia to draw attention to a neglected area; knowledge and believes about mental disorders. Over the years the concept has evolved, and today MHL is a composite term often used to describe outcomes of mental health education. It has evolved from encompassing merely knowledge about mental disorders to a more comprehensive understanding.

In the literature today MHL broadly refers to knowledge and abilities necessary to benefit one’s own mental health, or that of others. From this perspective school health services are directed towards improving MHL. Currently there is a deficient understanding of MHL in health promotion, thus this project aims at explaining MHL in a health-promoting context through:

  • Exploring the concept of MHL in a health-promoting context through adding the dimension “mental health promoting competence” to MHL.
  • Developing an instrument for measuring mental health promoting competence among Norwegian adolescents.
  • Investigating the association between mental health promoting competence and good mental health among Norwegian adolescents.

Ph.D project by Regine Ringdal: 
Adolescents’ Subjective Experience of Mental Health and Social Support

Research focus for one of the Ph.D. candidates in WP 1, project 1 is adolescents’ subjective experience of social support from peers, friends and family, and mental health.

Since the 1970s, it has been acknowledged that social support has a significant positive impact on both physical and mental health. However, research focus has often been on positive effects of social support in relation to mental illness and stressful life events. Since mental health covers a wide specter from mental illness to mental well-being and happiness, it is important to examine how social support can function as a resource for good mental health in adolescents. The aim of this Ph.D. project is therefore to examine the relationship between mental well-being (positive aspects of mental health) and social support from family and friends. The Ph.D. candidate will also examine stability and change related to social support and mental health throughout a school year in Norwegian upper secondary schools. 


Project 2:

Project 2:

- Factors contributing to mental health and quality of life among siblings and parents after the loss of a child to cancer

Ph.D project by Hilde Kristin Vegsund

Childhood cancer impacts the whole family. Generally, few studies have addressed parental and siblings’ grief and evidence of family supportive care in pediatric palliative care research is scarce.

The overall aim is to promote good mental health and QoL in Norwegian families who lost a child to cancer. The study will contribute to increased knowledge about family mental health and thus be used to promote health and reduce long-term psychological problems for these families.

This study will acquire the knowledge that is essential on both vulnerability and protective factors in the grieving process necessary to promote QoL and reduce long-term mental health problems for Norwegian parents and siblings, as well as tailor and implement adequate interventions, both in the home community and at the hospital.