The Mihá-study

Mental health and well-being among indigenous Sámi adolescents and young adults in Norway: Risk and resilience – The Mihá study

Background: Previous research has revealed that indigenous Sámi adolescents and young adults in Norway experience a wide range of challenges related to mental health and general well-being.  

Objectives: The main objective of this project has been to map the mental health and well-being of young indigenous Sámi in Norway, with a focus on identifying factors that affect risk and resilience. 

Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews with Sámi young people, living in different Sámi areas and places in Norway, and focus group interviews with 8 health workers/service providers who are in daily contact with Sámi adolescents and young adults. Questionnaire study with 210 participants. Film productions.  

Results: Indicators of well-being among Sámi young people include their opportunity to develop a strong Sámi identity, be recognized and respected as an indigenous people, reduce minority stress, access to culturally sensitive health services that take into account their mother tongue and culture, racism and discrimination, violence, suicide, connection to nature, the opportunity to have a future on Sámi terms, for example in respect of being able to practise traditional Sámi industries such as reindeer husbandry and fishing, or live as Sámi young people in urban areas. These issues touch upon not only the well-being of Sámi young people, but also more existential questions about the place of Sámi young people in society, and about their rights as indigenous people and a minority in Norwegian society.  

Conclusions: The research project has primarily focused on identifying the protective factors and risk factors that affect good mental health and well-being, with a view to ensuring optimum mental health and well-being among Sámi adolescents and young adults.  

Link to the report and movies in Norwegian languages.