Young people in the Eindhoven region increasingly feel lonely. These are people between the ages of 12 and 18. This is according to research by the Municipal Health Department (GGD).
Eight thousand young people between the ages of 12 and 18 participated in the GGD survey. It showed that many teenagers in Southeast Brabant are not doing well. Emy van Maaren of the GGD says, “Young people are very stressed.”
“They have a lot of performance pressure; they have to do everything. (The kids) feel this from their parents, from the school, from their peers. And they want to maintain that perfect picture,” she adds. “Social media highlights this greatly. So they feel enormous pressure.”
‘A few good friends’
The problem seems to be growing. In a previous GGD study, a quarter of young people were lonely. Now that’s a third. “What many of these children miss is just a few very good friends. People they can talk to about anything”, Van Maaren says. “And also the chance to occasionally say, ‘Not today’.
“Nobody is going to post that they’re having bad day. And that’s how you all keep that whole system in place”. The GGD wants to tackle loneliness by offering lessons in social skills at schools.
The phenomenon is already being tackled in the De Mortel youth centre. This is in Eindhoven North. There, youth worker, Mike Smits, started Join Us. This is aimed at helping teenagers, who are lonely sometimes. “Simply put, these are nice gatherings. Everyone works on their own goals.”
“For example, gaining a more positive self-image, or increasing social skills. We then work on this together. And above all, it’s fun too,” Smits says. Join Us is a national organisation that started in nearby Veghel. It aims to bring lonely young people together. There are now three clubs in Eindhoven.
The one in De Mortel will be the first for kids, 12 and up. There’s not too much emphasis on the theme of loneliness. It’s still quite a taboo topic. That’s why many youngsters also hesitate to register. They’re often referred by a parent or teacher.
The list of participants is, however, growing steadily, but there’s still space. If you know any teenagers who might benefit from this programme, please get them to register here.
Finally, there’s also good news. The GGD survey shows that teenagers are healthier than four years ago. They smoke less and start drinking alcohol at a later age.
Editor: Melinda Walraven