The third round of the quarterly youth study (children, adolescents and young adults aged 12 to 25 years) took place in March 2022. The results are part of the Health Research for COVID-19 study. This survey showed that young people in particular were struggling mentally at the time of the survey and during the 3 months before that. A lockdown was in effect during this period.

Summary of research round 3

Two previous youth surveys have been published. Round 3 is the first time that adults (26 years and over) were also included in the study. This is a summary of key results from youth research.

One in six young people thought about taking own life

In the past 3 months (December 2021 to February 2022), a large group of young people (17%) seriously thought about ending their own life. In addition, many young people suffered from mental health problems (39%) and stress (54%). The physical symptoms mentioned most often by young people may also have been stress-related, such as tiredness (36%), memory and/or concentration problems (21%), irritability (20%), sleep disturbance (20%) and headache (19%).
Compared to previous years, GP practices also noticed an increase (+37%) in the number of suicide-related visits. These numbers relate to fatal and non-fatal suicide attempts, but also to suicidal thoughts. The number of GP visits for tiredness, headaches and nausea also increased.

Situation during the research round

The third round looked at the period from December 2021 to February 2022. The primary care data covers GP visits from January 2022 to March 2022. During this period, there was a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections caused by the Omicron variant and a lockdown was in effect from mid-December to the end of January.

Approach used in the quarterly youth study

The quarterly study is based on two data sources: survey-based research and data from primary care providers (GPs). In March 2022, a total of 4,751 young people (children, adolescents and young adults aged 12 to 25) completed a survey on their mental and physical health. In addition, we looked at the data provided by GPs (in the primary care database maintained by Nivel – the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research). GPs keep track of the symptoms and health conditions of people who visit their practice.

Two previous youth surveys have been published. In this third research round, the survey questionnaire was sent to a different group of young people. As a result, we will not present any trends here, but we did compare this survey round to previous rounds. This is relevant because both groups of study participants are representative of Dutch young people (based on gender, age, education and region).

Upcoming and previous research rounds

The surveys for round 4 were completed between 27 May 2022 and 12 June 2022. Previous surveys were conducted in December 2021 and September 2021.

Please note: the quarterly study consists of snapshots in time. Each survey round paints an overall picture of the well-being and problems of the Dutch population (and target groups within that) at a certain point in time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the current status of the crisis and the measures taken in response are constantly changing. The figures presented here are affected by those circumstances, because current circumstances may be different from the period that the figures for this survey round are based on.