The effects of corona on the mental health of young people are less than expected

What everyone feared: that young people would be mentally immersed in the ice due to the epidemic and the measures, did not happen in large numbers. Research from Tilburg University paints a surprisingly positive picture.

Peter van der Velden is Professor of Victims and Mental Health at Tilburg University. His research over several years shows that the coronavirus pandemic has had far less negative impact on the mental health of young people than we previously thought and has been discussed in the media.

Young people are more flexible

“It wasn’t fun,” he says, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean young people are depressed or anxious.” According to Van der Velden, young people and people in general are extremely resistant to stress or difficult circumstances.

“We’re not saying there are absolutely no anxious, lonely or depressed young people, just that the percentage is no older than 15.”

“A fairly constant percentage”

Van der Velden studied the mental health of young people in 2012, 2016 and 9 months after the start of the epidemic in 2020. In 2002, young people reported milder anxiety and depression than before.

“But there has been an increase like this before, even for the crown. And there seems to be a fairly consistent percentage of people with serious mental health issues that haven’t increased due to corona. And on these little sores that vary over time. »


on the study

The study of mental health is a long-term study Among 850 teenagers from Centradata and Tilburg University. In this study, three age groups between 16 and 20 years old were compared: from the end of 2012, from the end of 2016 to the end of 2020.

The study showed that at the end of 2020, 32% of teenagers had mild symptoms of anxiety and depression. This was 20% among adolescents at the end of 2016 and 24% among adolescents at the end of 2012. Although the percentage of adolescents with mild disorders has increased, the study does not show that this increase in the months following the Corona was stronger. the increase of previous years.

Additionally, it appears that while adolescent mental health service use increased in 2020, there has indeed been an increase in previous years. Overall, the results suggest that the coronavirus pandemic has had very little negative impact on the mental health of young people aged 16 to 20.

Agencies reviews

This is a particular finding because all kinds of serious sources during the pandemic have indicated that young people have already suffered from the epidemic and the measures.

For example, the Netherlands Youth Institute, which wrote on its website in February 2022: “Studies confirm that more than other age groups, young people and young adults suffer from mental health problems such as than loneliness, depression and anxiety due to Crown’s actions.”

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No deterioration in mental health

And the CBS health survey was also poor. It says that in the first two quarters of 2021, 15% of the population aged 12 and over suffered from mental health problems – the lowest since 2001. 4 in 10 young people said they were more depressed than they looked were before the Crown crisis.

But research from Tilburg University shows that if you compare the mental health of young people at different times, over a longer period, there will be no apparent deterioration in mental health during an epidemic.

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“Young people who don’t do a good job are setting the tone.”

“What we have known for a long time is that many people are resistant to stress and difficult circumstances. The stories you hear are always from the feathers of people who are not well. But the image that appears is distorted,” says van der Velden.

Van der Velden took the last measure 9 months after the start of the pandemic. So it’s possible that the biggest mental blow came later due to the length of the proceedings. Van der Velden: “It’s possible. But when we did the first study, people said, “Can’t find anything now, but it’s coming.” People kept saying that. But that was not the case, until now”.

Researcher Peter van der Velden on the results of his research in EenVandaag on NPO Radio 1

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