Fewer young people aged 12 to 16 are positive about their health than in previous years. In addition, their mental health has not recovered after the COVID-19 pandemic. There has also been an increase in unhealthy behaviour, such as vaping and problematic use of social media. These are some of the results from the 2023 Youth Health Monitor, a survey of more than 188,000 Year 9 and 11 students in mainstream secondary education conducted by the Municipal Public Health Services and RIVM in the autumn of 2023. 

The health experiences of young people have been declining for some time. In 2015, almost 9 in 10 young people (88%) indicated that they thought their health was good or very good. In the latest measurement in 2023, this has fallen to 8 in 10 (80%). This decrease can be seen in nearly all Municipal Public Health Service regions. 

Mental health has not recovered 

The previous measurement, performed during the pandemic in 2021, showed that young people felt less happy. This measurement (2023) shows that, contrary to expectations, nothing has changed. Compared with the measurement taken in 2019 before the pandemic, young people are experiencing more stress. In addition, the percentage of young people who had been bullied at school and/or online in the last three months has risen from 11% in 2019 to 18% in 2023.

Increase in unhealthy behaviour 

The percentage of young people who are vaping (smoking e-cigarettes) has more than quadrupled in the past four years. In 2019, 2% of young people vaped weekly; in 2023, that figure was 9%. More young people are also smoking cigarettes or roll-your-own tobacco (up from 4% in 2019 to 6% in 2023).  In addition, 13% of young people are at risk of problematic use of social media; in 2019, that figure was 8%. These young people reported suffering from sleep deprivation or rushing their homework due to their use of social media.

2023 Youth Health Monitor 

Previous measurements of the regular Youth Health Monitors were conducted in 2015 and 2019. An additional measurement was performed in 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By comparing the results from the different years, we can see developments over time. More results from the Youth Health Monitor are presented at VZinfo and RIVM StatLine. You can find information about the Health Monitors at www.monitorgezondheid.nl. Local and regional policymakers and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport can use the results of the monitor to make and substantiate policy.  

 We will be conducting further research through group discussions and individual interviews with young people. The goal is to get a more in-depth picture of the survey results and understand them better. The results of this additional research will be published at the end of the summer. 

 The full press release can be found on the website of the Netherlands Municipal Public Health Services and Medical Assistance in Accidents and Disasters (GGD GHOR).