Ungdata, mental health and gender differences. A study of gendered mental health re-enactments in Ungdata’s dLTC youth surveys
In Norway the psychological well-being among adolescents has been extensively studied through the Ungdata project, digitalized Low Transaction Costs (dLTC) Surveys offered free of charge to all Norwegian municipalities with the primary aim of providing an overview of the local youth environment and a basis for local policy development and implementation. The studies have shown that there are systematic gender differences in the mental health of adolescents. Nearly 25 percent of girls from the age of 15-16 struggle with depressive symptoms, approximately 20 percent struggle with daily physical health issues and as many as every third female is dissatisfied with herself (NOVA, 2015). There seems to be little discussion about whether the survey method itself, the normative nature of the themes or the questions used to determine mental ill-health (an eight-item revised version of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-10) are sufficient to draw conclusions about the psychological state of teenagers. Neither has the effects of these negative mental health images on the population repeatedly studied been subjected to research. Through multi-stage focus groups with teenagers (n=17) and the analysis of NOVA documents this paper discusses, based on a notion of recursivity, whether the Ungdata survey system and subsequent media coverage could have been a contributing factor to the reported gender differences among adolescents. The thesis reflects on Ungdata's low transaction costs, its use of diagnostic terminology and suggest that the survey system augment gender differences in mental health due to an inherent gender bias that interprets the enactment of gender-roles as essential differences between the sexes.
ForlagUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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