Sound and reliable data on mental health are key to developing evidence-based policy making, target interventions, and provide feedback on progress made. 

Monitoring population mental health

RIVM runs various monitoring programmes dedicated to mental health, again in collaboration with various partner organisations. The national integrated action plan ‘Good Mental Health for All’ has been a driving factor in bringing these different monitoring processes under one umbrella. Data on mental well-being, mental health problems, and mental disorders is presented via one central webpage (Dutch only) . This page functions as a portal, providing access to information on the general population as well as on specific groups: children, adolescents, young adults, adults, older people, students, and people in paid employment. Data is broken down by age, gender, level of education and (where possible) by local authority or region. In the near future, data on mental health determinants and on the impact of mental health problems -for instance on service uptake or costs- will also become available on these pages.

In 2021 and again in 2023, RIVM, Trimbos, and the national Association of Regional Public Health Services zoomed in on the mental health of students in higher vocational and university education. The 2021 study  was the first of its kind in The Netherlands. More than 28,000 students responded to this survey. It gathered information on their mental health and mapped out factors associated with mental health (e.g. stress, problems sleeping, and performance pressure) and the use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco and cannabis. The subsequent 2023 edition collected data from over 32,000 respondents.

Impact COVID-19 pandemic

Efforts to capture the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the well-being of the Dutch population started in March 2020. This work not only covers mental health and well-being, but also looks at social and physical aspects as well as to adherence to restrictive behavioural measures to curb the pandemic . All in all, a total of 21 survey rounds were rolled out until September 2022.
Data from the first 11 surveys (gathered until April 2021) as well as from the Lifelines North Netherlands cohort informed a specific study into the mental well-being of health care workers and of informal carers in paid employment (in Dutch only). No relevant differences in mental health status could be found between these two groups, also not in comparison with workers in other sectors .

Mental health is also addressed within a five-year integrated monitoring programme on the overall health impact of the pandemic on both young people and adults. This programme is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and implemented in partnership with Regional Public Health Services, the  Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (Nivel), and ARQ National Psychotrauma Centre. As of 2021, data is gathered every three months via dedicated panels and  primary care practices.

Within the context of the pandemic, RIVM also carried out a dedicated study to map the mental health of students in vocational education. Information was gathered between May 2021 and March 2022. This study was also meant to complement ongoing work on the mental health of students in higher vocational and university education.

Reporting on mental health

RIVM’s major national health reporting portals include information on the mental health and well-being of the Dutch population. These portals are developed in close collaboration with a wide range of national partners, integrating their joint body of knowledge and data within one central website. This aims to provide accurate, easy-to-find information for policy makers, professionals and the general public. is the gateway to information about health and disease, risk factors, care and prevention in the Netherlands . Its pages on mental health provide access to information and data on mental well-being, mental health problems and mental disorders. For some topics (e.g. stress, mental resilience, happiness, and mental health problems) regional and local level data are presented via interactive maps. The gateway also incorporates the ‘Buurtatlas’, providing geographical data at neigbourhood level on issues such as self-reported mental health problems, loneliness, and social support. Other pages are dedicated to prevention (for instance of suicide, mental ill-health and suicide), and to international policies and (comparable) data. RIVM has a track record in the area of cost-of-illness studies. The VZinfo gateway provides insight into health expenditure as a consequence of anxiety disorders, depression and other mood disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, and burn out.

State of Public Health and Health Care 

The State of Public Health and Health Care website presents over 200 core data on health and health services, as well as social and community support services. Data reflect the current state of affairs but can also present developments over time, and the specific situation per geographical region. There are different ways to access and search a key figure, for instance via an alphabetic list of topics, by age, gender or clustered under key themes. Mental health is such a key theme. It provides access to data on a wide range of issues: not only on major mental health disorders or indicators for well-being, but also on (for instance) quality of services, waiting lists, workforce, and professional education.

Focus on regions

Within the context of key national policy measures aiming to maximise efficient, tailored provision of health, care and support services, the portal is to support the development of (mandatory) regional health service plans. It presents data and visuals on regional demography and anticipated population growth, public health, social and environmental issues, service needs and service availability.
The portal includes dedicated pages on mental health problems, bringing together information and knowledge in support of integrated service provision and planning at regional or local level.