@ease is the Dutch version of the successful Australian initiative Headspace. Headspace was founded in 2006 by Professor McGorry in collaboration with the Australian government. There are now more than 100 centers spread across the country. They offer young people free help and psychiatric support in an easily accessible way. The results are very positive as the concept has been implemented all over Denmark, Belgium, Ireland and many other countries.
Professor Thérèse van Amelsvoort (Professor of Transitional Psychiatry at Maastricht UMC+ and Dr. Rianne Klaassen (Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at De Bascule in Amsterdam) founded @ease, the Dutch version of Headspace. @ease was created with the help of Maastricht UMC+, VUmc and a number of institutions for outpatient mental health care, such as De Bascule, Arkin and Mondriaan. They utilize the working hours of professionals from different fields in order to make the project possible.
We know that 75% of all psychological symptoms begin before someone turns 25. Despite good forms of assistance, only a fifth of young people with psychological problems receive the right care in time. The threshold for asking for help is often high. Many young people are ashamed,
do not know where to find the right agencies or are faced with long waiting lists. It is also often difficult to receive care when complaints fluctuate, and no clear diagnosis can be made (yet).
@ease wants to change this situation. @ease wants to prevent young people from going through their problems for too long. We believe that talking about your problems helps. Young people feel heard and less alone. A single conversation can sometimes be enough. It airs up, makes them stronger and can often prevent worse. By recognizing problems faster and working towards a solution, @ease wants to prevent that long-term care is needed down the line.
@ease is not here to try to reinvent the wheel, but instead strives to fill the gaps in the safety net of the current system; gaps that people all too often slip through. We do this by offering a readily accessible, low threshold place where young people can just walk in. Without having to make an appointment, without having to pay at all, and where they can remain anonymous. Here at @ease, there are no waiting lists, and individuals are more than welcome to come to us with their questions, complaints and problems. We offer a shoulder lean on, a listening ear and a warm, welcoming environment. Our volunteers are trained to recognize signals of distress and how to respond accordingly. At our center there is always a healthcare professional who can answer your questions or queries. If necessary, these professionals can also help to find the right kind of professional care via traditional avenues; and in times of acute crisis, a psychiatrist can also be reached.
@ease is built upon scientific research to insure the concept of the program also produces the desired results. Sophie Leijdesdorff (department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology at Maastricht University) is currently doing her PhD research on this respectively. The following questions are central to her research:
If individuals are interested in contributing to the research, @ease provides the option for young people to anonymously fill in a short questionnaire after their interview. This is of course, not mandatory and is done completely on a voluntary basis.
@ease is made possible in part by the Innovatiefonds Zorgverzekeraars (Innovation Fund for Health Insurers), the municipalities of Maastricht and Amsterdam, GGD Amsterdam,
the Kanunnik Salden Foundation / Nieuwenhof, the Sint Clemens Foundation, KlaassenStertefeld and Health Foundation Limburg. In addition, there are individuals who support @ease.
@ease has a sound financial management and a clear long-term vision. In regard to costs of further development and expansion of @ease, we are still dependent on funding from donations and subsidies. All financial activities from donations, subsidies or other forms of support, are done via @ease or via Health Foundation Limburg.