Young and happy?

Are they healthy and happy, or are young people  in the Netherlands stressed-out, binge-drinking smartphone addicts plagued by mental health issues?

Alina Cosma, Maartje Boer, Margreet de Looze, Regina van den Eijnden, Gonneke Stevens, Wilma Vollebergh
Alina Cosma, Maartje Boer, Margreet de Looze, Regina van den Eijnden, Gonneke Stevens and Wilma Vollebergh. Photo: Robin Alysha Clemens

Youth researcher Gonneke Stevens is responsible for the Dutch component of the international Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. Every four years, she and her colleagues join forces with researchers from the Trimbos Institute and the Netherlands Institute for Social Research to gather data on the health and well-being of Dutch young people between the ages of 11 and 16. The goal is to find out how this generation is really faring.

Stevens and her colleagues from the strategic theme Dynamics of Youth ask questions about a wide range  of topics. ‘Our research touches not only on well-being, substance use and social media, but also addresses school-related pressure, condom use, soft drink consumption and relationships with parents and friends. It also allows us to compare young people in the Netherlands with their peers from nearly every other country in Europe.’

The findings are shared with ministries and local authorities, who use the research results to coordinate their policy. ‘In this way, we help improve the living situation of young people in the Netherlands.’