Topic: Disasters, terror and stress management

The importance of health for the prevention apparatus’ understanding and management of violent extremism

In line with assignments from the Government's action plan against radicalization and violent extremism, NKVTS researches the services' prevention work with radicalization and violent extremism. In this project, we explore the role health is assigned by the prevention services in their work. The aim is to inform the prevention work that takes place in the services.

2020 This project has been completed 2023

Project Manager

Project Members

In recent years, Norwegian municipalities and local police have been required to work to prevent radicalization and violent extremism. In a study of this work from NKVTS (Førde & Andersen, 2018), one of the key findings is that a large proportion of so-called ‘cases of concern’ (bekymringssaker) concern young and adult men with various psychosocial difficulties and challenges. It is not uncommon for cases to be labeled "psychiatry" by the police. Furthermore, these people’s situations are often described with the term «exclusion», and include challenges and vulnerabilities such as unemployment, dropping out of school, substance abuse, experience of violence, social isolation, bullying, mental illness, migration and minority backgrounds (Førde & Andersen, 2018). The challenges thus extend beyond mental health in the narrow sense. Psychosocial health, which also includes the emotional, social and spiritual dimensions of health, can thus be a more useful concept in this context.

With this as a background, we will in this project explore the role that the prevention services attach to health in a double sense, both specifically in the sense of «the health sector», and as a framework for understanding the phenomenon of extremism. Furthermore, we will look at how the prevention services understands and encounters exclusion in their work against radicalization and extremism, especially within the framework of health. In the project, we will thus combine perspectives from extremism research and health research in an exploration of the relationship between violent extremism and health.

We aim to provide more knowledge about how violent extremism and related issues can best be prevented by the services, especially in connection with the role of health in this work. Furthermore, we want to shed light on the growing importance of health as an approach to society’s challenges, how perceptions of health are related to various forms of difference, and what advantages and disadvantages an expanded understanding of health can have, not least in relation to democratic values such as individual freedom and diversity.

Our issues will be analyzed through an exploratory qualitative methodology, where we examine how cases of concern — where there is a suspicion of both extremism and mental illness — are understood and handled in the police, municipalities, welfare services, schools and health. Data on this will be collected through a combination of interviews with employees who handle cases in various instances, and analysis of various documents related to prevention work — such as supervisors and information materials — where a comparison will be made of management documents and practices with the goal of identifying potential similarities / differences and say something about the causes and outcomes of these. It is also being considered to make a systematic survey of the extent of cases of concerns in general and cases where radicalization and suspected psychosocial ill-health come together.