Since the World Happiness Record (U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network) was first published in 2012, Norway has consistently ranked in the top four happiest countries. A recent survey gives a different impression on the happiness of Norwegians. It says that one in five students have considered suicide and that 29 per cent have serious mental ailments.
— Pressure on students
— We have a good welfare system and a good economy but this does not mean that everything is good. There’s a lot of pressure on students and great expectations about a successful future, says Øystein Sandven, a psychologist at Sammen.
He also states that unrealistic expectations and competitions often cause a few winners and lots of losers.
— It’s all about being the best, but most of us aren’t the best, we’re just average.
Åsa Lie, a student from The University of Bergen (UiB) agrees with Sandvens sentiments.
— There is much pressure on young people that we need to achieve something.
Ruben Njøtøy, a journalism student from UiB, says that his generation tries to compete with each other, which can make you feel like there is always someone who is better than you.
— I think this is a big cause for depression. We are the performance generation.
— Should be about growing
One of the variables measured in the World Happiness Record, is the people’s income. A value which can explain Norway’s good performance in rankings and struggling students at the same time. Sandven says that money and happiness are not always closely related.
— Seeing other people earning a lot of money increases your expectations. You start being afraid of not reaching the same level, he says, and adds:
— Earlier, being a student was more like spending time to get to learn about one area or profession, there was maybe less focus on getting an A or B. Being a student should also be about growing and questioning things, and not only reproduction. These days there`s a lot of focus on the next grade.
The challenges students have which can cause mental problems are not taken into account by international comparisons like the World Happiness record.
— You get left by yourself
Marius Stavang rather thinks the shapelessness of university is one of the reasons that students struggle with mental issues.
— You get left by yourself. I think suicide ideation is a result of loneliness. Among students it might be difficult to find a group and get the feeling of fitting in.
Sandven has some advice for students to be more happy.
— Students want to succeed in many areas. But you should make it a priority to relax and rest, you can’t be best all over.
If you are struggling with mental health issues there is a 24/7 helpline you can call: +47 116 123.