Mental health care in the Netherlands
Getting help for one's mental well-being is more common now than before. However, for an expat living abroad, the challenge of navigating a foreign healthcare system can be daunting. About 70 percent of expatriates in The Hague reported that the covid crisis has affected their mental health (source: ICAP survey). But you should not hesitate to ask for help, as support in this area is very accessible in the Netherlands.
Following is a list of mental health support you can find in the Netherlands.
Online mental health support
As a general rule, your GP (family doctor or ‘huisarts’) should always be your first point of contact in the Netherlands for any health issues. However, if you are suffering from mild mental or social issues (e.g. depression, anxiety, addiction; problems in your relationship, at work or at school), you may want to seek online mental health support.
You can consider the following:
- Trimbos Institute runs prevention programmes and self-help interventions
- ACCESS NL offers an on-call counselling service
- Open Counseling provides a list of free telephone counselling hotlines in the Netherlands.
Check with your employer and health insurance
Many organisations have started including mental well-being programmes in their healthcare packages. Ask your company’s Human Resources department if they offer such programmes.
Some health insurances also offer programmes for stress, anxiety and burnout, and may include coaching to help manage your general well-being. Check with your health insurance provider if this is included in your plan.
Consult your GP or company doctor
If you are not sure about your mental health condition or where to go for help, you should call/visit your GP or company doctor. They are equipped to treat you for mild conditions or point you to the right specialist and provide you with a referral ‘verwijsbrief’ if needed. The doctor’s referral is necessary for health insurance claims (depending on your specific health insurance plan).
Primary or secondary mental health care
After visiting your GP or company doctor, they may refer you directly to:
- Primary care ‘Eerstelijnszorg’
For mild to moderate mental health issues, you may be referred to a social worker or a psychologist from the municipal mental health services (GGZ). The treatment may consist of counselling from a psychologist or psychotherapist, or some form of online mental health support. It could also be a combination of both counselling and online support.
- Secondary care ‘Tweedelijnszorg’
This is for patients with serious and complex psychiatric disorders (e.g. ADHD, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]). It could come in the form of specialised care and diagnosis in hospitals and other facilities. Unlike a psychologist in primary care, a psychiatrist will be able to prescribe medication if needed. If you are under treatment in primary care, you may need one or several treatments with a secondary care professional to get a diagnose. Once they have worked out a treatment plan, your psychologist will be able to continue treatment with you.
'Algemeen Maatschappelijk Werk' (AMW), or Dutch Social Services, helps people with a wide variety of issues. Trained professionals will help you with any personal or psychological problems, ranging from loneliness and insecurity to stress and relationship problems. They can also help if you encounter problems with (government) authorities, or find yourself in a difficult financial situation. You do not need a referral from your GP to make an appointment with AMW.
Contact Social Services at +31 (0)70 205 22 22 or find online support (in Dutch).
Support for young people with mental health issues
Children and adolescents up to the age of 18 with mental health problems are eligible for assistance from the paediatric mental health services (Jeugd GGZ). However, a referral from your GP or a care professional (employed by or on behalf of the local authority) is needed.
Residents of The Hague can contact
Centre for Children and Families
Tel: +31 (0)800 285 40 70
Residents of Delft, Rijswijk and Leidschendam-Voorburg can contact
JGZ South-Holland West
Tel: +31 (0)88 054 99 99
Visit government.nl for more information on mental health care in the Netherlands.
Emergency mental health support
If you or someone you know is having a mental health emergency, and/or having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, there is help available at all times. You should contact your GP immediately. Your GP will contact the local crisis intervention team (available 24/7) if necessary.
Or contact 113 Suicide prevention by visiting the website (click the ‘Chatten’ button in the top right corner) or call 0900-0113 to talk to someone.
International mental health services
Consider reaching out to our partner, Kühler & Partners International Mental Health.
They are able to provides comprehensive specialised mental health care (SGGZ) in various languages including English, Dutch, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese. Their team of psychiatrists and psychologists can provide immediate support, and work out individualised treatments that best meet your needs.
Tel: +31 (0)85 06 60 500