Mental healthcare in the Netherlands: all you need to know for 2024

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Mental healthcare is more important than ever in the Netherlands, with more and more people coming forward to talk about their struggles with their mental health.

Anyone can suffer from mental health issues, and we should all be able to seek help and get support to heal and improve our mental well-being.

Mental healthcare is especially important for internationals in the Netherlands, who face the struggles of moving to another country (often unaccompanied by family) and settling into a completely foreign world.

It’s important to know that you don’t have to go through it alone. We understand the difficulty of wanting to seek help and not knowing where to start or how to do it.

Here’s all you need to know about mental healthcare in the Netherlands.

If you or someone you know has suffered from a breakdown or needs help, then contact a GP as soon as possible, especially if you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts or is self-harming.

You will then be referred to a crisis intervention team. In the case of an emergency, the following phone numbers are available:

Suicide prevention Netherlands: 0800 – 0113

Samaritans: 116 – 123

Where can I get help for mental health problems in the Netherlands?

If you are suffering from mental health problems, there are a few options that you can try.

Before we begin, it’s important that you first take out Dutch healthcare insurance, as this is compulsory in the Netherlands.

READ MORE | Dutch health insurance in 2024: what’s new?

Once you’ve done this, you must register with a huisarts (general practitioner). This way, you can easily make appointments to be seen by a doctor or physician.

Visiting your GP for mental healthcare in the Netherlands

It’s recommended that you visit your GP, as they’ll be the ones who will refer you to a mental health specialist (especially if you have a complex mental health condition).

However, if your symptoms are mild, you can usually just be treated by the GP.

Online mental healthcare in the Netherlands

If you feel like you’re not yet ready to go to see a GP, you can also find support online or from an online mental health specialist.

This is especially recommended if you find it hard to go outside or find social situations difficult and prefer to remain anonymous.

There are plenty of options available if you're not comfortable meeting in person.
Plenty of options are available if you’re uncomfortable meeting in person. Image: Depositphotos

Workplace mental healthcare in the Netherlands

Some workplaces have a company doctor or welfare support you can visit if you seek professional help about a (mental) health issue.

All in all, it’s important to note there is always someone there to help, and we strongly recommend that you see or talk to at least one person if you are struggling with mental health problems.

Will my basic healthcare insurance cover mental healthcare?

According to the Dutch government’s website, health insurance has to cover all or part of mental health care costs.

However, it depends on the insurance company you’ve signed with and the policy you have.

For example, if you have a more severe mental health condition that may need additional treatment, your insurer might not cover all of your primary or secondary care.

READ MORE | All you need to know about healthcare allowance in the Netherlands [2023]

Make sure to read up on your insurance policy before undergoing any treatment. You might end up having to pay for additional mental healthcare alongside your basic healthcare insurance.

When you are first referred to a mental healthcare specialist by your GP, you will have a meeting to discuss your treatment.

From this, your total cost of treatment will be estimated.

Woman-about-to-sign-a-health-insurance-form
Upon your arrival in the Netherlands, getting your health insurance sorted sooner rather than later is better. Image: Depositphotos

If your insurance does not pay for your mental health treatment, it’s essential to note that you won’t be able to pay per session.

Since doctors can’t know exactly when you will get better, a total bill will be calculated at the end of your recovery journey.

READ MORE | ‘Tis the season for switching Dutch health insurance: 8 things to know

If your mental health is severe and you are admitted to a mental health institution, your insurance will cover the first three years of your hospital stay under the Long-term Care Act. After that, it’s at your discretion.

The difference between primary and secondary mental health care in the Netherlands

There are two different types of mental health care services in the Netherlands, primary and secondary care.

Primary care

If your mental illness is seen as too complex for your GP’s (or another doctor’s) level of training, you will be referred to a primary mental healthcare service.

Primary mental healthcare is for people with mild to moderate mental health issues but whose issues are too severe to be treated without intervention.

man-in-therapy-mental-health
Your mental illness doesn’t need to be considered severe for you to seek help. Image: Depositphotos

It consists of services such as online mental health support and counselling services with a psychologist, psychotherapist, or psychiatrist. Sometimes, you can have both, depending on the severity of your illness.

Secondary care

If your mental illness is seen as too severe for the GP’s (or another doctor’s) level of training and is more complex than primary care, then you will be referred to a secondary mental healthcare service.

These include psychiatrists or clinical psychologists working in a mental health institution, hospital or private practice.

This service is for very serious disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Borderline Personality Disorder, and Schizophrenia, to name but a few. This care will be different and may require hospital stays.

What happens if you are admitted to a mental health institution in the Netherlands?

You may be admitted to a mental health institution if you have a complex and very serious mental illness.

You will be admitted without consent in serious incidents where you are a danger to yourself or others around you.

In usual circumstances, though, it is voluntary, and there is a meeting with everyone to discuss if this is the right course of action for you.

A long-term plan is sometimes created to provide supported accommodation to ensure that the patient is independent and in a safe environment.

What is mental health support like for young people in the Netherlands?

You may have a child or friend under the age of 18 who’s struggling with mental health problems, and you’re wondering what options are available for them to get help.

Well, the system for youngsters is generally the same as it is for adults. They should first go to their GP and get referred for additional help.

photo-mother-holding-hand-of-teenage-girl-seeking-therapy
Young people in the Netherlands can access the same help as adults. Image: Depositphotos

They will usually obtain help from the pediatric mental health services (Jeugd GGZ), who specialise in child psychological development and associated parenting and behavioural problems.

Will I come across any issues with mental healthcare in the Netherlands?

Overall, getting help for your mental health problems shouldn’t be difficult if you’re living in the Netherlands.

The main issue you might encounter is a language barrier if you’re not fluent in English or Dutch.

The Netherlands has quite a notorious reputation when it comes to providing health care. Some say the country is known for its amazing healthcare, while others say it is seriously lacking in these areas.

READ MORE | Isolation, mental health and the Dutch weather: an interview with a psychologist in Leiden

However, the Dutch tend to be very laid-back and down-to-earth people when it comes to mental health. In fact, they’re pretty open-minded about mental health issues.

With that being said, don’t hesitate to seek help if you have any mental illness — whether that be anxiety or depression, as well as eating disorders or PTSD.

We must continue to fight the stigma surrounding mental health issues and spread awareness about the importance of mental health to society.

What are your experiences with mental healthcare in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below! 👇

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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What do you think?

15 COMMENTS

  1. The support so far has been good, however, the wait time for an appointment is over 6 months, which is HORRIBLE! Also, expats should be aware that children under the age of 18 do not qualify for mental health insurance. You can see a provider, but insurance will not cover any of it. The costs are quite high for the consultations and plans, not to mention therapy. We have a teen daughter that is on medication and needs therapy appointments and this has been challenging. I would expect more support for children and teenagers. I understand we don’t have to pay for their insurance, but we should be able to add an additional package that covers mental health for them.

  2. As someone with serious issues I found it hard to get adequate help for years. The quality is pretty terrible, you have to fight for yourself every step of the way and waiting lists can be from six months to over a year depending on your condition. Also, though your health insurance can’t deny your treatment, they can delay it if they don’t want to pay for it. So, even if a practice has a place for you, the insurance company can call them and say they won’t pay this year/month/etc.

    On top of that, Dutch therapists are some of the worst I have ever encountered. They are overt to giving a diagnosis, some advice is pure pseudoscience, some methods are from last century, and getting medication is borderline impossible. They just hope your case is going to be easy or you are a gullible person who can be cured by the power of going for a stroll.

  3. I’m actually awaiting for my psychiatrist appointment after diagnosed schizophrenia by my GP and myself actually.

    Accordingly to estimated awaiting time it supposed to be 14 days where reality becomes a bit different, obviously.
    So far I’ve got an update with “few weeks” wait, so do I – being honest, I do not want to use medications as far as my symptoms are simple and not such difficult to fight with, what I do want is to get known what are those symptoms, how do they activate and what kind of step I could do to make them smoothly go through instead of take a fight with.

    Awaiting for my appointment, if all goes well – gonna try to remind myself to post in here.

  4. What’s unfortunate is that the healthcare providers don’t cover therapy if it’s not within a certain list of their therapists. So if you find a therapist you click with, you have to pay for it yourself.

  5. Hola muchas gracias por la información pero me encuentro muy mal y no he recibido atencion y quiero morirme y me siento deprimido y rumbo sin horizonte si ustedes conocen de algún lugar donde me pueda internar por que necesito ayuda yo soy refugiado y no me hen déjado ver a un psiquiatra ayuda por favor

  6. Here’s my experience for the past six years:

    I’ve had my fair share of waiting lists, “good” psychologists, therapists and psychiatrists as well as less helpful ones. The waiting time is heavily dependant on where you’re located, whether you can speak nd understand Dutch (conduct therapy sessions in Dutch) and of course, the severity of your case. The last point is “objective” and is dependent on your care provider/huisarts or current therapist and how far they are willing to push for/with you to get help.
    As for insurance coverage, that is a loooong story by itself! Each insurance company has different rules for different types of therapy AND medication. A good therapist will take you through relevant information regarding your individual case.

  7. It’s almost a year and I can’t get treatment. This is given that I know what meds I need. GP even refered me to a psychiatrist but didn’t hear back from her and refused to continue prescriptions. It was supposed to become better once you get through GP barrier, but it is not. Can’t call such system efficient in any way. If there are no private practitioners that can take you without referral then moving to a better place seems the next best option. That might sound exaggerated but sometimes untreated mental issues cost lives.

  8. we have a nightmare of an experience with the Dutch
    healthcare system in general but now specifically with the mental health support we are trying to acquire for a friend. Starting with not being able to ring the suicide help line if you don’t have a Dutch number. Therapists that don’t seem to know what they are doing and don’t seem to have proper qualification. We’ve been in contact with two GP’s, one health crisis center with two psychologists assessing and two other therapists contacted online. None of them reacted properly to the suicidal ideation and forgot to follow with the patient. It’s constant calls from our end to beg for help. Very deflating. Meds are also almost never prescribed and if so,no transparent explanation what to expect and what side effects they cause. It’s been a massive challenge so far and also online information is as intransparent as the GP’s are.

  9. I would like to get information about how an adult child can manage the treatment in the Netherlands for a parent with significant mental health issues. Are there any recommendations or resource links anyone can suggest?

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