The main consequence of the COVID-19 period still perceived by young people is the delay in learning and development that they incurred. Remote learning and skipped internships led to delays, and young people are still noticing the effects of having missed out on formative events and life experiences. This is evidenced by the quarterly update from September 2023. In addition, young people felt less healthy than in June 2023. The results of this study are part of the Health Research for COVID-19 research programme.

The Network for Health Research in Disasters (GOR Network) publishes a quarterly update on this page, summarising key results from survey research and data from primary care providers. The aim is to provide information to the municipalities, the provinces and the national government of the Netherlands to assist them in formulating policies.

Summary of research round 9, September 2023

The research round in September 2023 only looked at young people aged 12–25 years. The following is a summary of key results.

Young people feel that they are lagging behind

In this survey round, young people were asked about the impact that the COVID-19 period still has on their lives now. In their answers, they often describe learning delays and the sense that they had missed out on a significant portion of their life. Young people missed transitional points that they can no longer go back and catch up on, but did feel important to them. Examples include the musical at the end of primary school, the graduation ceremony at the end of secondary school, or the introductory period when starting university. Due to school closures and online education, some young people experienced learning delays that have not been resolved, or not completely. The resulting pressure can lead to major stress, regularly combined with the higher student debt caused by the delay. In addition, young people mention that their contact with friends diminished in intensity during the COVID-19 period, and that they still have great difficulty getting used to large groups. They also have a hard time talking to strangers. Young people also have perceived mental impacts, such as persistent negative emotions, germophobia, and fear of new measures. Read more now about the answers given by young people on the page about the impact of the COVID-19 period.

Young people’s health has deteriorated

All the figures from the survey round in September 2023 show that young people’s health has deteriorated. More young people perceive their health as moderate or poor, and a higher percentage of young people had mental and/or physical symptoms than in the entire preceding year (which comprised 4 research rounds). Compared to June, loneliness rose from 45% to 49%. The number of young people who seriously thought about suicide in the 3 months before the survey rose from 14% to 17%. 56% of young people had physical symptoms, compared to 52% in June. That puts suicidal thoughts and physical symptoms at the same level as the peak in March 2021, just after the last lockdown. In other words, young people’s health deteriorated, but young people looked for and found less help, although they actually did feel a need for it. Paralleling the survey results, the primary care data showed that the number of contacts with the GP regarding suicide (attempts or thoughts) remained high in July-September. Young people were also more likely to visit the GP due to feelings of anxiety or nervousness.

Approach used in the quarterly youth study 

The quarterly study consists of data from two sources: the survey-based study on mental and physical health and the primary care data provided by GPs. Between 15 September and 2 October 2023, a total of 5,079 young people (aged 12-25 years) completed a survey on their mental and physical health. The primary care data (from the Nivel Primary Care Database) encompasses GP visits by children and young people (aged 0–24 years) from July 2023 to September 2023. GPs keep track of the health problems and conditions for which children, adolescents and young adults visit their practice.

Upcoming and previous research rounds 

Since September 2021, this quarterly study has taken place every 3 months. Results of previous research rounds are also available. The following research round is planned for December 2023.