Troubled children face long waits for psychiatric help, officials call for action


Children in urgent need of psychiatric help sometimes find themselves on a waiting list of more than a year, current affairs show Nieuwsuur reported on Monday evening.

The long waits include treatment for children as young as 12 and 13 with eating disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts, Nieuwsuur said.

‘Coronavirus has made the problems in youth psychiatric services bigger, deeper and more acute,’ Korrie Louwes, chief inspector for youth care services said. ‘Institutions are having to say “no” even though they see real help is needed. We see the hopelessness in parents. Action needs to be taken urgently.’

The shortage of places dates back to 2015 when youth care services were decentralized and transferred to local authorities, Nieuwsuur said.

‘If a child lives in a village and is suicidal or has an eating disorder, then the local council has to decide “do I offer this child care or open the swimming pool”,’ said child psychiatrist Marco Bottelier, who works for a large care institution in the north of the country.

Judith Bokhove, who is in charge of youth care services in Rotterdam, told the programme that the government should be providing extra support for these vulnerable children, alongside coronavirus-related help for companies and workers.

‘There is a structural shortage but now [with coronavirus] there is additional need,’ she said. ‘This is not only up to local government. National government must help out as well.’

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