Only slight decrease in mental health problems among young people after lockdowns
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The proportion of young people with mental health complaints has decreased only slightly since the end of the last coronavirus lockdown in early 2022. While the percentage of young people with psychological problems fell that summer, it rose back up again last autumn, according to Dutch public health institute RIVM.
In September 2021, 25 percent of young people were experiencing psychological issues. That share rose to 39 percent in March 2022, just after the last lockdown. Although the percentage had fallen to 32 percent In September, that was still higher than a year earlier. By December 2022, it had increased slightly. The figures on young people experiencing suicidal thoughts showed a similar trend.
The RIVM bases it’s conclusion on research by the Network GOR, which compiles research on the impact disasters have on health. The partnership has been mapping the short- and long-term consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on people's health and well-being since September 2021, with a subsidy from the Ministry of Health. Questionnaires are used for research on young people, defined in this case as those from 12 to 25 years old.
The percentage of adults with mental health complaints or suicidal thoughts in December 2022 remained almost the same as in September of that year. The first measurement among adults was made in March 2022, so a comparison with the state of affairs before the last lockdown is not possible.
The RIVM did not provide an explanation or context for the persistence of psychological problems in young people after the last coronavirus lockdown. Earlier, "mental complaints, suicidal thoughts and loneliness were strongly associated with things people experienced due to coronavirus, such as hospitalization.”
Those who were confronted with such a situation were almost twice as likely to experience psychological complaints. "In December, that connection was no longer there." However, according to the RIVM, there is "a small group" that has been suffering for a long time from events they experienced as a result of the pandemic.
Those who contacted the AllesOK? support hotline for young people aged 18 to 25 is about a third of conversations about emotional problems, the organization said on Thursday. The conversations about such problems there and also handled by the Kindertelefoon, which also reported discussions mainly about "not feeling well", stress, self-harm and thoughts of suicide.
Roline de Wilde, director at the Kindertelefoon and the Alles OK? Support line said, “We often hear that children and young people do not feel heard or understood by their environment. There may also be shame or fear of the opinion of others."
Reporting by ANP