On the 1st of January, the municipality of Bornholm was the third municipality to open a youth counselling centre for sexual and psychosocial health among adolescents, in Denmark called “Ungdomsmodtagelse” or “UngMod”.
But what is a “Ungdomsmodtagelse” and why it is a good idea? Together with the pharmaceutical company Bayer we at Nordic Healthcare Group – Denmark did an analysis on the potential of opening more “Ungdomsmodtagelser” in Denmark.
This short article is a short introduction to the concept and its potential. The article is reviewed by registered midwife Gabriela Rehfeld who manages “Ungdomsmodtagelsen Danmark”.
The idea behind the concept” Ungdomsmodtagelse” is based upon experiences from Sweden, which currently has 274 “Ungdomsmottagninger” with more than 200.000 adolescents visiting since 2006.
The purpose of the “Ungdomsmodtagelse” is to increase the physical and mental well-being and sexual health of young adults aged 12-25 years, by offering free individual appointments and clinical examinations done by midwives and specialists. The approach to the issues faced by adolescents is holistic and acknowledges that sexual and psychosocial health is closely related and cannot be separated – especially with this age group.
The activities of “Ungdomsmodtagelsen”
- Targeted counselling and information
- Clinical examination and counselling
- Free birth control and contraception
Targeted counselling and information:
The adolescents are offered free and targeted counselling (approx. 45 min) where the specialist spends time on the history of the adolescent, and how they, in general, are feeling. If clinical examinations show sexually transmitted disease the focus is on information on why it happened, how to avoid it in the future and how treatment is being done.
The most important thing in the targeted counselling is that it is a room of trust, and the adolescent will not be faced with finger-pointing and judgement.
Clinical examination and counselling
“Ungdomsmodtagelsen” offers free clinical examinations and tests for sexually transmitted diseases, fungus, cystitis, and pregnancy.
They also offer free birth control (IUDs and implants)
The experience is that this is typically the first reason why the adolescent makes contact.
Education, empowerment and a norm-critical approach are the foundation. To get the adolescent to use the “Ungdomsmodtagelse” you need to inform and educate them about the offer and how to use “Ungdomsmodtagelsen”.
Typically, schools and high schools is the place to start. Also, different healthcare professionals in contact with young adults need information about the offer and how to refer the young adults to the offer.
Free birth control
Based on the experiences in Sweden, free birth control is offered. Experiences from both Sweden and Denmark show that adolescents offered free birth control are typically characterized as exposed and often lacking the money to buy birth control.
First row: Anna, 20 years old gets a boyfriend but lacks knowledge about sex and birth control. Feels embarrassed and lacks someone to talk to. Ends up getting pregnant and gets the child. Cannot overcome her education and drops out and ends up on unemployment support.
Second row: Anna, 20 years old gets a boyfriend but lacks knowledge about sex and birth control. Anna’s friend uses UngMod and one day Anna drops by. Anna finds that she likes the safe and trustful atmosphere of UngMod and decides to ask for a chat about birth control. UngMod helps her with birth control.
Peter, 18 years old think he has gotten chlamydia. Visits UngMod to receive a free test and treatment. Trusts the specialist and decides to share his problem with drugs. The specialist guides Peter to the right person to help him deal with this. He gets help and ends up quitting the drugs.
In Denmark, the experiences show that the adolescents using the “Ungdomsmodtagelse” gets the necessary help in other aspects of life as well, since “Ungdomsmodtagelsen” typically has close cooperation with other services from the municipality. This means that the healthcare professionals know that if one of the adolescents needs help with other issues, they can assist with contacting the right person.
Gabriela says: “The idea behind Ungdomsmodtagelsen is really meaningful when you look at the young adolescents aged 12-15 years, who typically in these years begin to contact the healthcare system on their own. If you don’t know who to contact or who to get in contact with, and you don’t have a network that can help you either, then you decide not to do anything to handle your concerns or problems. Ungdomsmodtagelsen offers a safe environment and a place to come and ask for help – and is also a way of supporting adolescents in their attempt to become individuals and navigate their way in the healthcare system”
Effects of free birth control
Studies show that the best effect is when free birth control is followed up by examination and guidance by a specialist/healthcare professional.
The analysis shows that free birth control, examination and guidance reduce transmitted sexual diseases and reduces unwanted pregnancies. The effects of these are several, including better mental health, better fertility, reduction in abortions and young mothers, leading to reductions in the number of adolescents dropping out of school and education and children needing placement.
In Denmark, the “Ungdomsmodtagelse” is placed organizationally within the departments of social services belonging to the municipalities. “Ungdomsmodtagelsen” needs to be placed physically at a location where the young adults come and where they would like to come.
For further reading and research:
Want to get in contact or do you have any questions – feel free to write to Gabriela!