Dutch Psychiatric Association Warns Lockdowns Could Leave Youth With “Permanent Mental Health Issues”

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The Dutch Psychiatric Association is warning that ongoing pandemic lockdowns could leave youth with permanent mental health issues and, along with higher learning institutions and academic and student groups, is calling for schools to reopen.

“These educational institutions should also open as soon as possible,” the association’s chairman Elnathan Prinsen said, as reported by NL Times.

Prinsen noted that child and youth psychiatrists have been flooded with clients and that students are reporting more stress, loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

“The lockdown is intended to prevent illness, but it is the lockdown that is making people sick,” he said, as well as causing “serious problems that can lead to a mental disorder.”

While adults might be more likely to recover from the psychiatric effects of the first lockdown, for younger minds, this poses a greater task.

“After the first lockdown, they reported 1.5 times as many mental complaints as before,” Prinsen said of children and youth. “If you then enter the next lockdown with more problems, they will pile up.”

“We know from studies that three-quarters of mental disorders develop before the age of 21,” he explained. “The average age at which such a disorder starts is around 18, 19 years old, which is exactly the age of students in secondary vocational education, college, and university.”

In a letter to the Outbreak Management Team, student unions and educational institutions pled for universities and secondary schools to open as soon as possible.

“That is of great importance for the quality of education and the well-being of students,” student unions, the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, the National Youth Council, and the Universities of the Netherlands wrote. “The daily contact between students and with lecturers is of great importance for the quality of education and the well-being of students.”

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