Waiting lists for adult mental health care are growing: Nu.nl

More adults are having mental health problems but services are stretched and waiting lists are growing, Nu.nl reports.

A quarter of 18 to 75 year-olds, or some 3.3 million people, were diagnosed with  mental health problems in the last year, up from less than 18% ,12 years ago, figures from addiction centre Trimbos Institute show.

Depression, anxiety and addiction are the most common conditions, with the greatest rise among young adults and students. Single people, the unemployed and people on low incomes are also more prone to mental health problems.

Studies have shown the pandemic influenced mental health but this has not shown up in the number of clinical diagnoses.

‘People are constantly experiencing stimuli, social media alone accounts for a lot of this. Society is becoming more individualistic at the same time as people’s sense of security is being affected by the climate crisis, rising costs and the war in Ukraine,’ Ruth Peetom, chairwoman of the regional health board mental health services, told Nu.nl.

Mental health services are struggling with a ‘gigantic lack of staff’, Peetoom said. Waiting times exceed the statutory 14 weeks for half of the people seeking help, figures from the Dutch healthcare authority show.

Peetoom wants a more cohesive approach to mental health care, including initiatives aimed at combating smoking and obesity, and less emphasis on the financial viability of the service. ‘The cabinet should not concentrate on the economic side. This concerns the mental health of a large group of people,’ she said.

The fact that the taboo on mental health problems is disappearing is a good sign in itself, Peetoom said. ‘More people are acknowledging they have a problem. But now we have find ways to deal with that by improving services but also by making society more able to handle mental health problems. We need to become more resilient and talk about these problems in schools.’

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