Youth psychiatric services in crisis, calls for help rise up to 60%


Local health boards are reporting a sharp rise in the number youngsters appealing for help with severe psychiatric issues, and the increase is as much as 60% in some places.

The rise is particularly acute among young people with suicidal thoughts, depression and eating disorders requiring immediate attention, broadcaster NOS and the NRC said on Wednesday.

The problem is most serious in the central urban belt of the Randstad, the east of the country and western parts of Brabant. Some institutions are now switching staff to crisis services in an effort to stop the system collapsing, NOS said.

For example, two crisis services operated by the Parnassia mental health group report a 50% increase in referrals. ‘We can’t expand any further,’ a spokesman told NOS. ‘Youngsters are being treated for longer because their problems are becoming more complex.’

Youth psychiatric care services are organised by local authorities and part funded by national government but say they have been underfunded for years.

The survey of the 20 biggest institutions dealing with mental health issues was undertaken before the new lockdown was imposed, and this, officials say, is likely to have made the situation worse.

‘Youngsters are giving up more quickly,’ youth psychiatry professor Arne Popma told the NRC. ‘The time between “something is up” and “this cannot wait until tomorrow” is getting shorter,’ he said. ‘Resiliance seems to have gone.’

Junior health minister Paul Blokhuis is now talking to the local authorities association about increasing funding and other steps to make the system more manageable, NOS said.

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