Supported Employment for Young Adults with Mental Health Issues in Norway – A Good Practice Example from the Lost Millennials Project

Mental health issues can be a significant barrier for young adults seeking employment and education opportunities.

In Norway, a relatively small proportion of young people are “Not in Employment, Education or Training” (NEETs), but those who are, are more vulnerable compared to their peers in other European countries.

The Norwegian government has implemented several initiatives to address this issue, including Supported Employment Youth (IPS Ung), which provides individualized support to young adults with mental health issues and drug addiction in their process towards employment.

This blog post discusses the effectiveness of Supported Employment Youth in helping young adults with mental health issues find and maintain employment.

The Challenge for NEETs with Mental Health Issues in Norway

Norway has a high standard of living and social welfare system, but a large proportion of Norwegian NEETs have poorer mental health and lower levels of education compared to NEETs in other European countries.

Particularly, mental health issues are the most common reason female NEETs are outside the labour force and education. Studies show employers are sceptical of employing people with mental or physical health issues.

Also, as the need for highly skilled workers steadily rises, NEETs face increasing difficulties accessing the labour market.

Supported Employment Youth (IPS Ung)

This is an initiative aimed at closing the gap between the labour market and NEETs with mental illness and drug addictions.

The target group of IPS Ung are NEETs in the age group 16 – 29 who are at risk of disability due to mental illness and drug addiction at an early age.

Supported Employment entails a professional supporting these young individuals to overcome their issues in the process towards employment, with the aim to enable them to get employed and maintain their job over time.

These professionals map not only the youth and their background but also the employers and organizations for the purpose of matchmaking between the youth and organizations.

The Effectiveness of Supported Employment Youth

Supported Employment Youth has shown to be effective, especially for NEETs with lighter and moderate mental health issues, and tailored individual support and follow-up seem to be the key success factor.

Systematic and frequent follow-up of NEETs is not only effective regarding employment outcomes but also regarding outcomes of mental and psychological well-being.

An evaluation of the initiative, in the form of a randomized control trial, concluded that in comparison to traditional vocational rehabilitation, Supported Employment Youth had a positive effect on NEETs’ employment and their well-being: NEETs reported feeling less hopeless and more hopeful after their participation.

Potential Applicability of Supported Employment Youth

Supported Employment is a method that is imported from other countries and, therefore, shows potential for a wider applicability.

The implementation of Supported Employment Youth in Norway has proved its effectiveness, and the tailored individual support and follow-up provided by the job specialists are key to this success.

Supported Employment Youth has potential applicability in contexts where NEETs have similar backgrounds.


Supported Employment Youth is a promising initiative that has helped many young adults with mental health issues in Norway find and maintain employment.

Mental health issues can be a significant barrier for young adults seeking employment and education opportunities, and Supported Employment Youth provides individualized support that can make a significant difference.

With its potential for wide application, Supported Employment Youth could help address similar issues faced by NEETs in other countries.

This article tries to highlight the key points of our partners in the Lost Millennials project, Guro Øydgard, Janne Breimo, and Ann-Torill Tørrisplass from Nord University, in their article published in Youth Employment Magazine issue 23, March 2023.

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Vasilis Bouronikos
Content & Communication Manager

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