Dutch doctors warn student mental health problems are rising

Extra pressure created by the need to take on part-time jobs after study grants were axed, medics warn

August 15, 2018
Girl during session with psychotherapist
Source: iStock

Dutch students are increasingly seeking help for psychological problems, which doctors attribute to an increasing burden of pressure from studies, social media and debt, local media have reported.

This echoes trends seen in the UK, where some data have indicated rising mental health problems in recent years among students. In other countries such as Australia, student mental health has also risen up the agenda.

Doctors who spoke to Dutch newspaper Volkskrant warned of increased fatigue, anxiety, addiction and panic attacks among students.

As a result, there has been a rise in waiting times for students to see a psychologist.

Cees Jansen, a doctor who spoke to the newspaper, said that from his experience “the problem has become bigger in recent years”, although he acknowledged that he had no hard figures.

“It is, of course, a problem facing the whole society. But you see more problems among young people than before,” he said. “During the time that I studied, you could still be an eternal student.

“In my student house, I lived next to a guy who studied psychology for 10 years. That is no longer possible. Today’s students have to perform. If you are delayed in your study, it immediately has major consequences.”

Doctors who spoke to the newspaper put some of the blame on the abolition of study grants and a consequent rise in student debts, which was pushing students to take on extra jobs.

Saskia Schipper said that taking on these extra jobs “creates stress. At the same time, they try to hold up the image to the outside world that everything is going well.”

She added: “You must have a fantastic Instagram account that shows what a great life you have: delicious meals, fun parties, beautiful holidays, long journeys. That pressure is enormous.”

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands told the newspaper that it was aware of the problem and was creating a plan in response.

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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