Delivering state-of the art knowledge to underpin and support policy making is RIVM’s core business. This can be channeled through generating new evidence, but also by integrating existing knowledge that is of particular relevance to policy makers. As regards mental health, three policy areas and initiatives are of particular relevance: the national integrated action plan, options for wider upstream and integrated policies, and the mental health of workers.

Integrated approaches

In summer 2022, the Dutch government published its first integrated action plan: ‘Good Mental Health for All’, undersigned by as many as nine cabinet and junior ministers responsible for policies in areas such as science and education, poverty reduction and social inclusion, employment, home affairs, and of course public health and health services. Implementation is structured along five lines of action, focusing on society at large, community settings, school, work, and online/digital settings.

To inform the development of this policy document and in partnership with Trimbos and GGD GHOR Netherlands (the national Association of Regional Public Health Services), RIVM developed four fact sheets. These factsheets address options to support mental health and well-being at local and national level, inform on effective  preventive interventions, discuss steps to advance a national knowledge infrastructure, and highlight data sources and indicators to monitor mental health. The factsheets are available on this webpage (Dutch only).

Upstream policy options

Further work followed in spring 2024, when RIVM was asked to conduct a quick scan to gather the latest insights into key mental health determinants as well as other factors that impact on mental health and are amenable via (intersectoral) policy measures. This work is commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. 

Mental health at work

The increasing mental workload of workers is one of five strategic themes addressed within a wider horizon scanning exercise on the future of occupational health and safety published in 2023 (in Dutch, English synopsis). RIVM carried out this extensive piece of work in partnership with TNO Innovation for Life and it was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. The report listed increasing staff shortages as well as pressures due to combining work and caring responsibilities among the prime factors expected to negatively impact workers’ mental health over the next two decades. 

This study was followed by a more in-depth piece of work on the impact of societal developments on psychosocial work-related pressures of workers. This 2024 TNO and RIVM report(PDF) describes eight developments that are expected to have the biggest impact on work-related stress in the next 20 years: the ageing workforce, the need to combine work and informal care tasks, labour market shortages, flexible contracts, working for online platforms, artificial intelligence, hybrid working and perceived performance pressure. Read more in the news item Societal developments may increase work-related stress in future