Burden of mental health problems: quality of life and cost-of-illness in youth consulting Dutch walk-in youth health centres

J Ment Health. 2023 Feb;32(1):150-157. doi: 10.1080/09638237.2020.1836555. Epub 2020 Oct 22.


Background: Little is known about the burden of (sub-threshold) mental health problems in youth.

Aim: To examine the burden of mental health problems in terms of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and cost-of-illness, for first visitors of the Dutch youth walk-in centres (@ease).

Method: A bottom-up, prevalence-based burden of disease study from a societal perspective. HRQoL was assessed through the EuroQoL (EQ-5D-5L), and cost-of-illness via items about truancy and health care utilization.

Results: Participants (N = 80) showed a decreased HRQoL compared to the general population of Dutch youth. In the three months prior to their 1st attendance, participants skipped on average 4.11 days of school and had 1.03 health care visits, leading to total costs of €512.64 per person. Females had significantly higher health care costs and lower HRQoL. Health care use was lower in those not speaking the Dutch language. Living alone was a significant predictor of truancy (costs), and therefore total costs.

Conclusions: Mental health problems in youth consulting @ease have a considerable impact on the individual's HRQoL, and an economic impact on society, yet almost 75% is not receiving care. A lack of interventions in this critical period in life may have major lifelong consequences.

Keywords: Youth mental health; burden of disease; cost-of-illness; early detection; mental health problems; quality of life; young people.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires