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Imagine If We…
Found a New, Common Direction For A Thriving Youth?

Imagine this; young people in Denmark are doing better than ever before. Even with the historic challenges facing this generation, they have never had greater influence or more opportunities to shape their own future. Collectively, we have taken responsibility for providing a framework for young people to thrive

This project is a part of our theme
Social transition

To set the direction towards this radically different future, we need to rethink our current approach to mental health and well-being among young people. That is why The ROCKWOOL Foundation’s Intervention Unit and Danish Design Center are launching “Imagine if we”– a new initiative to design concrete scenarios for a future where young people are thriving. In a series of exploratory and experimenting workshops, we are bringing together a wide range of actors to help us both imagine and create these scenarios.

"We are interested in finding out what happens if mental well-being becomes a shared responsibility rather than an individual duty. What becomes possible if we shift the focus from treating symptoms of dissatisfaction to creating better frameworks for well-being in children and young people's everyday lives?"

Lea Miriam Fick Køhn

Head of Program at Children's learning and well-being, The ROCKWOOL Foundation

The Challenge: It’s Time for a Paradigm Shift

The number of unhappy young people is at an all-time high. Among 16-24-year-olds, every third woman and every fifth man report that they are experiencing dissatisfaction, stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Unhappiness in adolescence can cause ripple effects that affect education, friendships, careers, health, and parenting well into adulthood. We know that the current approach to solving this challenge is falling short – yet, we seem to be stuck in the same paradigm.

Research shows that our well-being is influenced by the context in which we live and by everything surrounding us. So why do we think that the conditions for thriving can be in closed circuits – in a clinic or a class room? We need to work together, involving both young people themselves and all the people who surround them in their everyday lives. 

The How: Together for a Better Future

Using futures and scenario design, we aim to activate the current knowledge about mental health to develop concrete alternatives to the current system. The concrete nature of the scenarios allows us to understand which changes we need to push for and which ones we should build together.

The four shifts
We are currently examining the potential outcomes of shifting the focus from the individual to the community and from treating symptoms to building structures for well-being. Together with a wide range of actors, we want to determine whether a new approach to mental health can strengthen young people’s well-being and give them a greater chance to actively participate in the world around them.We have developed a framework that outlines four tangible shifts from what characterizes the current system to what new complementary approaches to creating mental well-being could look like. These four shifts will serve as a springboard for the development of future scenarios and ideas for new solutions in the initiative “Imagine if.”

Tænk hvis vi

"Before we can make any real changes, we need to envision concrete alternative scenarios for what thriving looks like for a young person. By using our collective imagination to position ourselves in the future, we create a very different perspective on the present."

Sara Gry Striegler

Head of Social Innovation, Danish Design Center

The scenarios will be designed in a series of workshops hosted by Danish Design Center and The ROCKWOOL Foundation’s Intervention Unit throughout the summer of 2022. When the scenarios are completed, they will be tested in the school, education, and employment sectors. This resource of knowledge will be used to shape the first concrete solutions for an alternative future.

Sidsel Winther

Senior Anthropologist & Project Manager

Phone +45 2551 8288
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