More psychiatric detention orders are being issued, but coronavirus is not to blame


There was an 11% rise in the number of people detained for emergency treatment in a psychiatric clinic in the first six months of this year, the Volkskrant said on Tuesday.

In total, 5,000 people were either committed to an institution or forcefully medicated, the paper said. The figures come from the Council for the Judiciary and were requested by the paper.

Elnathan Prinsen, chairman of the Dutch psychiatrists association NVVP, told the Volkskrant that the rise is likely to be unrelated to coronavirus. Despite fears at the start of the pandemic that more people might have breakdowns, most services were actually quieter than normal, he said.

Rather, he said, crisis measures are being used to pick up slack elsewhere in the system. For example, new laws mean that people cannot be detained in an institution past the deadline without the the agreement of a judge.

This means delays in court, which have been made worse because of coronavirus, are now leading officials to turn to emergency admissions instead, he said.


The figures also show that people born in another country account for four in 10 of the commitment orders made in the 10 biggest Dutch cities, and over half of the cases in Amsterdam and The Hague.

Drug use only officially counts for 7% of emergency hospitalisations, although the real figure is likely to be higher and many tourists who develop a drug-related psychosis have a history of mental health problems, psychiatrist Wilco Tuinebreijer told the paper.

Refugees who have experienced traumatic events may also explain part of the over-representation of foreign nationals, he said.

Migration itself is a risk factor, Tuinebreijer said. ‘It is about social inclusion,’ he said. ‘The level of acceptance into society can be crucial.’

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