Many of the nation's leading psychiatrists have concluded that lockdowns may be causing "permanent" mental health issues in the country's younger populations.
In its latest report, the DPA said that the closure of schools caused by the lockdowns has had a serious and possibly permanent psychological side effect among young people. DPA Chairman Elnathan Prinsen said the country's educational institutions should open as soon as possible.
"The lockdown is intended to prevent illness, but it is the lockdown that is making people sick," said Prinsen. He noted that child and youth psychiatrists in the Netherlands have become busier than ever since the lockdowns began, with many new clients reporting mental health problems like stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression.
Every time the restrictive lockdown measures are put back in place, Prinsen noted that "more problems" among Dutch youth continue to "pile up." He added that these are serious problems that can lead to permanent mental health disorders.
Prinsen pointed out that most adults in the Netherlands were able to recover mentally from the effects of the first lockdown. This was not the case for the country's young adult population.
"After the first lockdown, they reported 1.5 times as many mental complaints as before," said Prinsen. "If you then enter the next lockdown with more problems, they will pile up."
According to a different report, in 2021 the Netherlands had as many as 300 suicides in people under 30. This represents a massive 15 percent increase in the number of suicides of people under 30 in 2020.
Dutch educational organizations, youth councils and student unions are in agreement that there is a need for schools to reopen as soon as possible.
"That is of great importance for the quality of education and the well-being of students," they wrote in a letter to the Outbreak Management Team, a government-formed council that advises the prime minister on measures required to reduce the spread of COVID-19. "The daily contact between students and with lecturers is of great importance for the quality of education and the well-being of students."
The mental health of young people all over the world is deteriorating due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. (Related: Lockdowns could cause mental health issues, Australian police commissioner warns… but they are proceeding anyway.)
In Canada, McMaster Children's Hospital in Ontario reported a tripling of the number of young people admitted to the hospital after a suicide attempt over a span of four months. The hospital further warned that as many as 17 percent of all Canadians aged 17 to 24 are "seriously contemplating suicide."
In the United States, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the country's surge in suicides among young people has caused "an epidemic of mental health challenges."
"I'm so concerned about our children because there is an epidemic, if you will, of mental health challenges that they've been facing, and it's partly because of the pandemic," said Murthy.
He added that the cause of all of these mental health concerns is almost certainly the children and teenagers being denied the chance to see their friends due to the lockdowns and school closures. Murthy noted that bereavement over the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19 may also play a role.
"We've seen certainly that many children have lost loved ones during this pandemic, 140,000 kids lost a caregiver," said Murthy. "We know that their lives have been turned upside down. They haven't been able to see friends as often as they would. And that's taken a toll. That's why we've seen anxiety and depression where it's going up among kids."
Between March and Oct. 2020, mental health-related emergency room visits spiked by 24 percent among children aged five to 11 and 31 percent among adolescents aged 12 to 17 compared to the same period in 2019.
According to the latest available data from UNICEF, at least one in every seven children in the world has been directly affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns, and more than 1.6 billion children have suffered some loss of education.
This disruption, the agency noted, has left many young people "feeling afraid, angry and concerned for their future."
Watch this video of a Dutch member of parliament strongly criticizing the country's prime minister over the country's COVID-19 restrictions.
Learn more about how lockdowns and other COVID restrictions affect mental health at Pandemic.news.