New student wellbeing programme for vocational and academic education

In order for students to flourish, it is essential for them to maintain a state of balance, good health, and a positive self-image. However, research shows that a significant number of students grapple with the pressures of performance, stress, and psychological challenges. The Student Wellbeing Programme focuses on secondary vocational education (mbo), higher vocational education (hbo) and academic education (wo). This initiative is designed to provide support to educators, local authorities, and prevention and healthcare professionals. The primary objectives of this programme include enhancing student wellbeing, fostering resilience, and mitigating substance abuse among students.

The Trimbos Institute has started the Student Wellbeing Programme for vocational and higher education levels (in Dutch: mbo, hbo and wo) in close collaboration with the Expertise Centre for Inclusive Education (ECIO), and with partners in education, government, prevention and healthcare professionals, student organisations and other knowledge institutes. One of the aims is to promote collaboration and knowledge exchange between secondary and higher vocational education and academic education. The programme is funded by the Dutch national government.

Why should we prioritise student wellbeing?

Students learn best when they feel comfortable in their own skin and good education helps students feel better about themselves. Nevertheless, a significant number of students grapple with performance pressure, stress and mental health issues, which we found in the 2021 Mental Health and Substance Use Monitor for higher education students, and the recent study Harder Better Faster Stronger?.

Improving student wellbeing is high on the national agenda, and a priority for the Dutch ministries of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS). The government described a shared approach (Dutch only), taking into account both educational institutions and students’ perspectives. With the Student wellbeing programme, the Trimbos Institute, ECIO and their collaborative partners will provide support to educational institutions and other professionals to embark on the shared goal to improve student wellbeing.

For example, educational institutions should go beyond addressing issues when they arise. By building mental health literacy in students, increasing students’ sense of belonging, and enhancing professionals’ knowledge and skills, educators should actively prioritize the prevention of wellbeing concerns and substance abuse among students. This aligns with international and European priorities to improve young people’s mental wellbeing, such as in the EU Communication on a Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health.

What will the programme involve?

In the coming years, the Trimbos Institute, ECIO and partners will collect input from professionals in the fields of education and health care and municipalities. A programme committee with representatives of these parties and student organisations will advise herein. We will translate wishes and needs from the field into ‘living labs’, to test possible solutions and approaches to improving wellbeing. We will also create opportunities to share knowledge and strengthen existing networks that focus on student health.

The Student Wellbeing Programme is also linked to existing prevention programmes in the Netherlands such as Wellbeing at School and the Healthy Schools approach, which are focused on other levels of education and fostering a positive self-image among pupils and students, preventing substance abuse, and promoting a healthy school lifestyle

Any questions?

For questions about the Student Wellbeing Programme, please contact programme coordinator Jolien Dopmeijer (

More information

> More information about the Trimbos Institute’s projects and themes in English

> Read this article in Dutch | Lees dit bericht in het Nederlands

Jolien Dopmeijer
Projectleider Studenten