CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION: THE MYSTERY

The clean, colorful, orderly, transparent and modern Scandinavia, overlooking the Arctic Circle, is the scene of the confrontation between benefit system and poor mental health. At the heart of this story, there is the Social-democratic ideal society in which the man is driven by equality, social justice, collectivism and self-betterment. That idealistic mindset formed the Nordic model of the welfare state and had an enormous influence on the social fabric of Scandinavian societies. The Nordic welfare state, however, emerged from a simple and aspirational social structure of the early 1950s and transformed into a bureaucratic and fashionable benefit system of 1980s. Since then, the Nordic social model has become part of the national consciousness, a collective mindset and a tale to every native and immigrant’s schoolchild, presenting a new way of life in our changing world. It formed a unique perception, public habit and behavioral routine and set in motion a great deal of academic research by focusing a link between economic prosperity and mental wellbeing.

The modern welfare state has journeyed through six decades and built a similar social and economic model in Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Faroe Islands. It has made striking development in the infrastructure of both rural and urban areas that the civilized world has even seen. The welfare state simply ended poverty, improved nutrition, launched green energy and fostered innovation for sustainable development across the region. The Nordic countries have powered to the top of many continental and Olympic medal tables in which the local sports clubs were the core part of their success. The state has always been positive and proactive promoting social responsibility, which continued to be the highest aspiration and the fundamental features of the Scandinavian public life. The profound sense of Nordic way of life has been grounded in egalitarian mindset of neutrality, work ethics, tolerance and domestic peace that had managed to avoid civil conflict since the introduction of the welfare state. Scandinavia exists as a place of earth defined by its homogeneity, collectivism and social welfare, a mere shape on a map whose peoples and cultures have much more in common with the state than with each other or with other parts of the world.

As the publicity of Nordic model grew outside the region, the world’s social and economic crisis put the Nordic model at the center of many international tables for mediating peace, gender equality, human rights, green energy, social justice and many more. But behind the social idealism, there was a great confusion over an epidemic of social isolation, emotional breakdown and poor public health among natives, ingenious minorities and immigrants. Although public mental health claimed high rates of knowledge of its message and structural reforms across the region, the rate of psychological disability was steadily rising. Sweden, for example, granted nearly 62,000 people for disability benefits in just one year, 2003. And in February 2016, the Nordic Center for Welfare and Social Issues published a fresh report on “Mental Health among Young People”, indicating that the growing level of mental illness among young people is one of the greatest challenges facing public health in the Nordic societies. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked Iceland for having the highest level of consumption of antidepressants in Europe between 2000 and 2010, followed by Denmark, Norway and Sweden. In 2017, Malmö, along with other major cities in Sweden, had one of the highest levels of reported rapes in proportion to population in the EU. This depressive reality begs a simple question as to why the most Europe’s admired social model is producing such a large number of young people with social and mental disabilities. The mystery, however, is how the noble objectives of the welfare state has evolved into a complex and bureaucratic system, affected the character of the ordinary people and produced fictional results.

Scandinavian impaired mental health is no longer a concept up for debate, but it is the fact of life that we can no longer ignore. In today’s welfare-driven society, our vocabularies extend no further than disability, segregation, integration, isolation, antidepressant, subsidy, social housing, taxation and crime. Most of our social and economic programs focus on protection of immigrants and natives who are not able to adapt themselves to their own environment. The state political will and resources for intervention and recovery does not work. The Nordic welfare state is the key to its public disability, but it is as little acknowledged and understood today as it was seven decades ago when the welfare state stated to develop. Our welfare state now promotes survival needs through national insurance and welfare department by providing 134 social and welfare programs. As a welfare nation, we have a spectrum of social benefit choices with a detailed description of each and every benefit, which does not promote public wellbeing.

From the semi-socialist model of the 1960s to the present decade of free market economy, our welfare state runs a monopoly on sales of alcoholic beverages to regulate consumption and reduce alcohol abuse. Advertising on tobacco, alcohol and drug along with violence on television has been viewed to have an adverse effect on children and adults, and therefore it banned for decades. But the state views gambling industry as beneficial social entertainment, and therefore the state-run gambling operators hold the monopoly over the provision of all the Nordic game and gambling market. We designed and built shatterproof windows, breakaway curtain rods, tamper-proof electrical outlets, stainless-steel mirrors, inflatable bike helmet and lockable electric stoves and water taps to increase safety and security. We lead the race to become a cashless society, and cash transactions was less than 2% of the values of all payments made in Sweden in 2017. Our state set up sperm banks that provide single women the possibility to become pregnant without the need for a partner. Our government builds luxury mental institutions and rehabilitation centers and uses the latest digital technology to deal with the social landscape of public anxiety, depression and social and emotional poverty. We have been told violent actions on television contribute to a person becoming aggressive in real life. Therefore, the state-run television channels broadcast intimate family dramas and humanely told stories for school-aged children. Our national television has launched a crusade on saving babies in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Since the 1980s the state has been outsourcing a large number of its social and welfare services to private contractors as they look upon the citizens as consumers, trying to rescue the deteriorating welfare dependency and mental disability...

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