Lived Space and Support as Interrelated Phenomena in the Context of Young People with Mental Health Problems

Mona Sommer, Tone Saevi


The Norwegian welfare system due to human rights is in charge of providing necessary support
of life to every citizen in terms of a safe place to live, the opportunity to education or
employment and meaningful life accomplishments. We explore how public sustenance is
experienced by a group of young receivers of public support. The article is one of three substudies
drawing on empirical material from in-depth interviews with 14 young adults with
mental health challenges and experiences from being partly or fully out of school or work. The
interviews reveal that in particular three aspects of support are significant to the young. These
are personal and shared space (e.g., supportive personal and professional relationships), the
opportunity of a safe home, and the prospect of not being trapped for a lengthy time in their
problems (an effective ‘standstill’ or suspension of agency of life), but be part of the “world out
there.” Could public support provide some temporary or permanent help with regard to these
basic aspects of life? We explore in this article the potential interrelatedness between space and
support in a hermeneutic phenomenological manner with basis in experiences from four of the
young in the study. David, Mia, Oda and Simon (all pseudonyms) each in their way, describe
moments where support and space seem to be existentially and experientially interconnected.
We wonder if analysis of the two phenomena can inform our understanding of the qualities that
characterize what we might call a ‘supportive’ environment within public welfare.


Lived space, support, existence, phenomenology, mental health, inside, outside, relationship, freedom.

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ISSN: 1913-4711