Danish government announces plan to spend half a billion on mental health

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish government announces plan to spend half a billion on mental health
Health Minister Sophie Løhde presented on Thursday a major proposal for Denmark's mental health services. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish government wants to spend 567 million kroner on mental health services in 2024.


The focus of the spending will be psychiatric services for children and young people; reducing waiting times, and more staff and resources for research, Health Minister Sophie Løhde said at a briefing on Thursday.

Løhde admitted at the briefing that the country’s mental health services are currently facing “great challenges”, saying that many young people are currently struggling with their mental wellbeing and that the impacts of this for them and their families are serious.

“Far too many are waiting far too long to be examined and treated,” the minister said.

“We must make sure we improve the quality of treatment for children and young people,” she said.

READ ALSO: Denmark's new 10-year-plan to improve mental health care (2022)


A feature of the proposal is a so-called “here-and-now” package for mental health services for children and young people, designed to increase capacity.

That will mean patients could be offered treatment sooner, including while their investigations are still ongoing. There will also be more follow-up care for those who have completed treatment courses.

The government also wants to enforce “obligatory partnerships between Regions [regional health authorities, ed.] and municipalities” on setting targets for prevention and de-escalation of situations where a person’s behaviour becomes aggressive.

A further ambition for the government is to place psychiatry within the basic medical training programme for doctors, thereby boosting the number of doctors who specialise in psychiatry.

“There is no doubt that the biggest problem for the health service right now is a staff shortage, not least in the area of psychiatry, which finds it hard to attract doctors,” Løhde said.

The government wants to pour an extra 400 million kroner into mental health services via the 2024 budget, for spending on the areas specified in Thursday’s proposal. Some 67 million kroner are comprised within Regional and municipal budgets, while 100 million will be drawn from the national budget’s research reserve to fund research on the area.

Combined with additional investments in mental health services already secured through earlier budgets, next year’s spending on the area is bolstered by a total of 1.6 billion kroner.

A large majority in parliament voted in September 2022, under the previous, single-party Social Democratic government, for a ten-year plan for mental health services which earmarked annual spending of 500 million kroner.

Løhde said on Thursday that a new proposal for a fully-costed ten-year plan will be presented in 2024.

The latest proposal and the plans already in place do not solve all the obstacles face by Denmark’s mental health services, the minister said.

“As much as I’d like to promise we’ll fix all the problems, I can’t issue such a promise.

“It would not be realistic or honest to those affected by this, or to their families,” she said.

“Mental health services have a huge backlog,” she said.


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