While the festival’s music softly echoed through the walls of the science tent, Eveline Crone and demissionary minister Robbert Dijkgraaf discussed the issue of performance pressure with 800 Lowlands visitors. Should the current generation of youth stop complaining? Or should we take the upward trend of mental issues among adolescents and concerns about the performance driven society more seriously?

As presenter Jim Jansen puts forward the statement that young people nowadays complain too much, Eveline Crone responds: ‘Young people generally don’t complain that much. Research shows that there is indeed an increase in mental issues among youth, with pressure to perform in school being one of the causes. Simultaneously, adolescence is a period in which you are intrinsically motivated to contribute to the world around you. Young people are often the drivers of major societal protests, like the climate protests. We should harness this strength. Give young people’s voices more priority when taking action to reduce mental stress’, argues Eveline.

‘I want to encourage young people to actually complain more,’ adds Robbert Dijkgraaf. ‘Organize yourselves and make your voices heard, participate in discussions about how we can better structure education. Besides the systemic changes we need to make, such as reducing the binding study advice and reinstating the basic grant (‘’basisbeurs’’), it is incredibly valuable to identify young people’s obstacles. We can only achieve this by including young people in the conversation,’ is Dijkgraaf’s message.

From the lively audience, a critical sound also emerged: ‘If you are already busy with your studies, part-time job, and social life, might the responsibility to raise your voice related to these issues actually add more stress?’. A valid question. Minister Dijkgraaf responds by saying that there should be space for these matters within the education system. ‘We should offer the opportunity to, for example, engage in union work within your curriculum or earn credits by participating in youth panels.’

‘My suggestion for young people would be that even small-scale contributions can be valuable,’ Eveline adds. ‘Contribute your thoughts at your own educational institution, for instance by joining the student advisory board. This way, you could come up with targeted solutions to alleviate stress among your fellow students.’

The packed crowd on a sunny Lowlands afternoon certainly proves that the mental health of young people is a topic that resonates. The Lowlands attendees seem to agree – including young people in the conversation is crucial for improving their mental well-being.

Photo: Dimitri Hakke


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