One third of welfare benefit claimants have psychiatric problems: report


One in three people claiming welfare benefits in the Netherlands is receiving some form of psychiatric help, according to social affairs ministry research.

The survey, carried out by national statistics office CBS and experts from Harvard University, showed that some 20% of the Dutch population have psychiatric problems.

However, almost one in three people claiming welfare (bijstand) is either having therapy or taking medicine to help with problems, compared with just one in 10 people who are working or in education.

In total, social security and welfare benefit claimants account for nearly 60% of the national bill for psychiatric help, the research shows.

‘If you have a psychiatric issue you are more likely to end up on welfare,’ Utrecht University professor Jim van Os told the Volkskrant. ‘But it works the other way as well. Once you end up on welfare you face social exclusion and that is another important risk factor for developing psychiatric problems.’

Junior social affairs minister Jette Klijnsma has now set aside €3.5m for projects to reduce psychiatric illness among benefit claimants. ‘It is crucial that councils, mental health boards and the UWV jobs centres work together to help people with a psychiatric problem find work,’ she said.