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YounginLeiden helps young people feel more in control of their lives

Clear information about support services, a well-being self-test and advice on finding a room. YounginLeiden.nl helps students and other young people get started, literally and figuratively. Why is this site so desperately needed?

There is often a combination of problems at play: money worries, housing and loneliness

‘It’s not easy for many young people. They are struggling with their studies and mental health, for example,’ says project manager Jaap Valkenburg from the Municipality of Leiden. He refers to the Mental Health and Substance Use Monitor that was recently published by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Although the number of students with anxiety and stress has decreased slightly compared to pandemic year 2021, around half still suffer from mental health problems.

YounginLeiden.nl is the initiative of the Municipality of Leiden in cooperation with medical students and health and well-being partners such as Rijn en Duin and Zorg & Zekerheid.

The website provides information and advice, and refers to relevant agencies for all the main areas of life: physical and mental health, self-care and happiness, life purpose, safety and housing, relationships, study, money and career. The bilingual site came about with the help of a group of Leiden medical students. Student Sjoerd de Vreeze was one of them. ‘Every year, the Faculty of Medicine and the Learning with the City partnership organise a two-day Master Mind Challenge where students consider a social issue. The municipality presented us with the concept of the website and asked how we as students and young people viewed it’, he says.

Lifestyle wheel

What was their input? ‘We looked at whether the information is what young people and students are looking for and whether it appeals to them. Within medicine, we use the concept of the lifestyle wheel’, De Vreeze explains. ‘That represents the ability to adapt and take control in the face of life’s physical, emotional and social challenges. If you are struggling in multiple areas, you will develop symptoms. Many young people find it difficult to get help because the information is often so fragmented. This site tells you what options are available within the municipality to improve the areas of your lifestyle wheel.’

The website also has a section for professionals looking for an overview

Information for professionals

The website, which was recently launched, is constantly being updated with new information, Valkenburg says. If readers are missing relevant partners or information, they can contact the YounginLeiden team. Professionals such as health care providers also have a real need for clear and concise information − for themselves and to refer young people to, say Valkenburg and De Vreeze. YounginLeiden therefore has a separate section for professionals with a list of healthcare partners such as community teams and health care or drug prevention services.


De Vreeze says he has learned a lot from the experience. ‘Within medicine, you are governed by medical protocols but for this project we had to come up with creative solutions. For example, my group thought about how to draw attention to this site in an eye-catching way. This could be with catchy social media posts and a new annual “K.U.T- week” dedicated to solving problems. And obviously the existing introduction weeks are a good time to make new students aware of the site.’

Text: Linda van Putten

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