Massive increase in young people seeking help for suicidal thoughts, eating disorders
Throughout the Netherlands, youth mental health services saw an increase of between 30 and 60 percent in requests for crisis aid from young people. This mainly concerns young people with suicidal tendencies and with severe eating disorders that require acute force-feeding. The mental health service largely attributes the increase to the coronavirus pandemic, NOS report.
Sector organization Nederlandse GGZ surveyed 20 large mental health institutions that offer crisis care for children and young people. The researchers found a massive increase in demand throughout the country, but the strongest increases in the Randstad, West Brabant, and Oost Nederland. Some institutions have had to move care workers from non-crisis care in order to keep the crisis service running.
The survey was conducted before the hard lockdown implemented in the Netherlands earlier this month. Nederlandse GGZ therefore worries that the situation will only get worse. The sector organization therefore asked the municipalities to make enough money available to provide children and young people in need with the care they need.
"Limiting budget ceilings really have to be removed in this emergency," Jacobine Geel, chairman of Nederlandse GGZ, said to the broadcaster. "The help and additional deployment of staff due to the increasing burden of care must be funded. The increase in the number of children and young people who have come into trouble since corona is alarming and requires immediate action."
Dutch municipalities are struggling with major shortages in youth care. Last week, State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health sent a report to parliament showing that municipalities spent between 1.6 and 1.8 billion euros more on youth mental healthcare last year than they received from the national government. Extra money pushed into youth mental healthcare - 420 million euros extra in 2019 and 300 million euros per year in 2020, 2021, and 2022 - is far from enough to fill the gaps, especially given the extra care needed since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Blokhuis said that he was going to meet with the association of Dutch municipalities VNG to discuss structural extra money for youth care as well as measures to keep care affordable.