In recent years, young people’s mental health in Belgium has deteriorated, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic. Flanders hopes to improve its support for this group by investing in easily accessible online care.
Online assistance, according to studies, can reach a larger target audience that does not seek traditional assistance or it is difficult for them to do so. Though there is a wealth of information online on self-tests for individuals struggling with alcohol and drug addiction as well as mental health issues, longer-term solutions are required.
“Online assistance is easy to use and accessible, allowing for the follow-up, monitoring, and adjustment of online self-tests and tools.” “This type of assistance deserves a full-fledged place in provision of psychological support and help,” said Hilde Crevits, Flemish Minister of Welfare, Health, and Family.
She wants more young people between the ages of 16 and 23 who are suffering from mental illnesses to be able to seek help online. This could imply that if they find it difficult to meet with a therapist or psychologist in person, they are no longer required to do so.
Online help is not only more accessible, but it also has much shorter waiting times, which is critical in a region where young people frequently go months without receiving treatment for eating disorders, anxiety disorders, suicidal thoughts, depressive feelings, and other conditions.
“Those interested in online counselling can expect their first digital appointment in about two weeks.” According to Crevits, clients are then followed up on for 3 months by a team of online professional counsellors and, if necessary, referred to residential services or outpatient.
Multiple Entry System
Young people will most likely be able to access online care in two ways over the next two years. To begin, an online guide for self-help will be developed to assist young people in understanding their symptoms and determining which counselling options are available to them. This offer is only available to people aged 16 to 23.
Those who are suffering from specific issues, such as anxiety, depression, or self-harm, will be able to seek help online.
Last year, approximately €600,000 were invested in online assistance and website assistance. Crevits has decided to invest €865,541 more in 2022 and €933,340 more in 2023 for these purposes.