Fewer people have mental health problems

02/03/2010 15:00

The proportion of people in relatively poor mental health had dropped to 9 percent in 2008. The reduction was mainly recorded in the female population. As a result, life expectancy in good mental health increased to 74 years in 2008. Mental problems are most frequent among disabled and unemployed.

Significant improvement in female population

Mental health of people in the Netherlands aged 12 years and older has improved. The proportion of people suffering from mental health problems dropped from 11 percent in 2001 to 9 percent in 2008. These people had indicated that they were nervous, depressed, unhappy or restless.

Women predominantly account for the reduction. Their share dropped from 14 to 11 percent. The male population showed no decline, but considerably more women than men suffer from mental health problems. Women more often feel nervous and restless.

Mental health by gender

Mental health by gender

More years in good mental health

As mental health and life expectancy have improved, life expectancy in good mental health has also improved. A child born in 2008 has a life expectancy in good mental health of 74 years, as opposed to 70 years in 2001. These figures apply to both genders. Since total female life expectancy is higher, women will spend more years than men in a state of mental health that could be defined as ranging from fair to poor.

Life expectancy in good mental health, at birth

Life expectancy in good mental health, at birth

Disabled more often have symptoms of poor mental health

Over one third of disabled indicated in 2007/2008 that their mental health was not so good. Their physical health is also often below average: chronic disorders are more common and their perceived general state of health is worse than in other population categories. Unemployed also face more mental problems than people who participate on the labour market. When comparing these groups, gender and age differences are taken into account.

Mental health in various social strata, 2007/2008

Mental health in various social strata, 2007/2008

Jan-Willem Bruggink