Lockdown makes them sick: mental health issues amongst students on the rise

The best time of your life, that’s what many say about the university years. Well, during the coronavirus pandemic it sure isn’t.

With almost two years of an on-and-off lockdown that kept many universities closed, mental health issues amongst students are on the rise, RTL Nieuws reports.

And now, another lockdown. While childcare facilities and middle schools were allowed to open, universities have been forced to shut their doors yet again.

Now, the Dutch Association for Psychiatry has sent an open letter of appeal to the OMT (Outbreak Management Team), pleading for higher education to open up again. And for good reason.

Mental health issues on the rise

“The lockdown is meant to prevent sickness, but it is the lockdown that makes people sick,” says Elnathan Prinsen, the Chair of the Dutch Association for Psychiatry.

He says that more and more students are experiencing serious states of anxiety, depression, burnout and loneliness, that resemble actual symptoms of mental illness.

Prinsen also says that three-quarters of mental illnesses develop before the age of twenty-one during late adolescence. The years 18 to 20 are especially important to develop good brain health.

Staring at a screen all day everyday

Anyone surprised by that? If you’ve started your studies sometime in the last two years, you might have never met your classmates or teachers. Or seen a classroom from the inside.

Instead, you’re staring at black boxes with names without any real-life contact. Sitting alone in your room, staring at a screen all day.

No long nights getting to know your life-long friends over drinks, and at parties. No clubbing, no borrels, no social life whatsoever.

A letter to the OMT

All these reasons have led Prinsen and the Dutch Association for Psychiatry to write a letter of appeal to the OMT, urging the Dutch government to allow universities and other high education facilities to open again.

New measures will be announced on Friday, January 14, regarding the extension or adjustment of the ongoing lockdown.

What is your experience as a student in the Netherlands during the coronavirus pandemic? Tell us in the comments!

Feature Image: [email protected]/Depositphotos

Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara moved to the Netherlands at fifteen and she is here to stay! After all, there is so much to love about it, except maybe the bread (as every German will tell you). Next to finishing up her bachelor's degree in European politics (dry), Cara loves to do yoga, swim, and cook delicious veggie food.


  1. Hi, UvA student here! As a first year I’ve been lucky enough to exclusively have in-person teaching so far. The government keeping universities closed is something I fear intensely – I have no idea how my peers in higher years managed to cope with a whole year and a half of that.
    We should NOT be the ones targeted. The government (and most of the media) seems to make the fatal mistake of looking at case numbers instead of death/hospitalisations. Sure, cases are booming, but the average number of deaths and hospitalisations has done nothing but go down since mid-december. The fear over Omicron is ridiculous; we know that it is much less dangerous than previous variants, not to mention us young people are much less at risk. Omicron should not be a reason to force us to be confined to our tiny rooms again and to rob us of some of the most fantastic years of our young lives.


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