More Dutch students struggle with psychological problems, university doctors say

An increasing number of students end up at the student house doctor's office complaining of psychological problems. They are increasingly dealing with fatigue, concentration problems, panic attacks, anxiety and addiction problems. The increase of students facing such problems also means an increase in waiting times for a psychologist, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday after speaking to house doctors who specifically treat students.

The doctors attribute the increase to more pressure to perform - both in their studies and on their social media accounts - and the fear of debt. The abolishment of the basic study grant means that students have to take out loans to study. To avoid falling into debt problems after their studies, many students take on extra jobs, which put extra pressure on them, the doctors said to the newspaper. 

"I have no figures, but I can say from my own experience that the problem has become bigger in recent years. Students often come to me with physical complaints such as headaches, abdominal pain, eczema or fatigue. But if I see on my calendar that I have five people in a row with complaints of this kind, then I know enough. That is no coincidence", doctor Cees Jansen said to the Volkskrant. "That is the tip of the iceberg. We only see the students who seek help. Not the people pining in their rooms."

"It is of course a problem facing the whole society. But you see more problems among young people than before", Jansen continued. "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 ten years. That is no longer possible. Today's students have to perform. If you are delayed in your study, it immediately has major consequences."

"I can only say how many people I see per week. There are eight to twelve. And my colleague the same", doctor Saskia Schipper said. "Financial problems also play a role. You have to borrow to study. Many students are afraid to build up debts. To prevent this, they take all kinds of side jobs. That also creates stress. At the same time they try to hold up the image to the outside world that everything is going well. 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."

Because more students need help with psychological problems, the waiting lists for psychologists are also increasing. The Association of Universities told the newspaper that they are aware of the problems and working on an action plan. 

 

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