@ease logo
Groen getekend cirkeltje

In 2017 @ease was created by Prof. Dr. Thérèse van Amelsvoort (professor of Transitional Psychiatry at Maastricht UMC+) and Dr. Rianne Klaassen (educator and child- and youth psychiatrist at Levvel in Amsterdam). In the Netherlands, @ease was able to start with funding from the ‘Innovatiefonds Zorgverzekeraars’. With further assistance by Maastricht UMC+, the University of Maastricht, VUmc and a number of other institutes and ambulatory mental health facilities, @ease was able to grow in a professional way. We work together with a growing group of involved organizations , some of which are healthcare and governmental institutions.

In 2017 @ease was founded, the Dutch version of the successful Australian organization Headspace. Headspace was founded in 2006 by Prof. Pat McGorry, in collaboration with the Australian government. Via around 100 Headspace walk-in locations, youth can receive psychiatric help and support in a relaxed manner. This concept has been taken over in many other countries, including the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, youth chose the name @ease.

It is well known that 75% of all psychological problems begin under the age of 25. Even though there are good forms of assistance, only 30% of youngsters with psychological problems receive help at the right time. The threshold for reaching out for help is often too high. Many youngsters feel ashamed, don’t know where to ask for help, are put on a waitinglist for a long time. Furthermore, it’s also difficult to get help when your symptoms come and go and can’t be diagnosed (yet). @ease wants to bring change for people in these situations. @ease wants to prevent young people from having to navigate through their problems on their own. We believe that talking about feelings helps. Youngsters feel heard and less alone. Even just one conversation can be enough. It provides a sense of relief and strength. It can often stop situations from getting worse. By being able to notice problems earlier and work towards a solution, @ease is hoping to prevent people from (later) needing long-term care.

Our mission is to give young people a safe space where they can feel heard and are able to go to when they’re struggling with something. Our work process is structured in a way that we can…

@ease was created specifically for young people aged 12-25 years, who require a listening ear. They can talk to people their age about their questions and problems: always free of charge, anonymous, without a waiting list, and as easy as possible. The young volunteers at @ease work together with trained professionals from local healthcare organizations. Preventing psychological and social problems in adolescents is the main focus. Our volunteers are trained to notice signals that may point to potentially worse psychological problems. At our @ease locations a mental health professional is always available. If necessary, they can also help find the right care in the regular (mental) health sector. There is also always an @ease psychiatrist available in case of emergency situations. Everything is done with the consent of the youngster!

Youngsters can currently visit different locations. Besides the conversations at the physical location, @ease also has a chat service, so that youngsters can find a listening ‘ear’ online too.

We’re primarily there for young people between the ages 12-25 years that need a listening ear for themselves, or who are looking for advice for someone else. Individuals who are already on a waiting list for psychological help, receiving help at a different institutions, or who have already finished therapy are all welcome to come by. Conversations at @ease can be done in both Dutch and English. Every conversation is anonymous.

Family members, teachers, health professionals and other close relations are always welcome to accompany a youngster if necessary. If the first step towards getting help is difficult, we’re happy to think of ways to make it easier!

We think it’s important to stay up to date on what young people find important. That’s why research has been a part of @ease since the beginning. This way we can evaluate and improve our work.

Together with youngsters, we have created a short questionnaire. With the use of this questionnaire we can, for instance track the amount of people and how often they come by. We’re also able to see what topics youngsters like to talk about and how they found their way to @ease. This ensures that as many young people as possible can make use of @ease in a manner that’s comfortable for them.

Youngsters anonymously fill in the short questionnaire after their conversations via an iPad, youngsters are free to decline participation. All answers are analysed anonymously: we don’t connect answers to specific youngsters. The data that we collect with the @ease questionnaire is used by the researchers (e.g. from Maastricht University) of the @ease team in order to write scientific articles and share our experiences and knowledge with initiatives like @ease all over the world. We have already published our first article. You can find the full article here.

“Have you filled out our questionnaire after a talk at @ease? Thank you! That helps us to improve @ease!”

Sophie Leijdesdorff

Sophie Leijdesdorff, psychologist, postdoctoral researcher at Maastricht University and part of the research team of @ease. Do you want to know more about the research? Sophie talks about it in this video.

Sophie Leijdesdorff is a psychologist who finished her thesis in 2021 at the University of Maastricht. She is part of the research team of @ease. Here you can read a summary of her work:

Ain’t no mountain high enough: how can we make health care more suitable for youngsters with psychological problems?

The majority of psychological disorders appear before the age of 25, and therefore poses a risk for their development. Especially amongst youngsters there’s a gap between their need for care and the care that they actually receive. In other words: the ones who need the most help, are the least likely to receive adequate help.

Over the past few years there have been many different youth mental health initiatives all over the world, with the goal of making healthcare suit the youngsters’ needs better. In 2018 the @ease walk-in locations were created in the Netherlands. In these locations youngsters between the ages of 12-25 years are able to find a listening ear, for their questions or concerns about their physical/psychological health or relating to topics such as finances, sexuality, work, studies, or their social setting. Research within @ease shows that the strain of psychological problems is high among youngsters and that they experience several barriers when they try to find help. The psychological problems of youngsters who did make use of @ease had a substantial impact on their quality of life and brought substantial societal costs with them, yet only ¼ received the help they needed.

Despite innovative initiatives around the globe, it’s still difficult to reach youngsters with (a risk of) psychological problems. This thesis shows the necessity as well as the feasibility for accessible help for young people, both within and outside of the Dutch mental healthcare system, and pleads for a broader implementation of youth-friendly help. Specifically, there would have to be investments made into informal settings, with walk-in options and personalized help, going above the diagnosis and the vulnerable age of 18. Health insurers could play a facilitating role by making information about healthcare costs more accessible and presenting them in a youth-friendly manner. The government would have to invest in more publicity about psychological problems amongst youngsters, and different treatment options. The study in this thesis is defined by its close connection between scientific research and innovative (clinical) practice in which the final user directly profited from the described innovations.

You can find the public information of this thesis here: Ain't no mountain high enough: How to improve access to youth mental health care — Maastricht University 

@ease is financially stable and has a clear long-term vision. In order to grow and develop @ease we are currently still reliant on donations and subsidies.

Nationally, the @ease foundation is made possible by the Innovatiefonds Zorgverzekeraars, the Kenniscentrum Kinder- en Jeugdpsychiatrie, FNO Geestkracht, and the ministry of WVS amongst others. Locally the municipality and others ensure that youngsters can visit the @ease locations. Through the very valued input by professionals from various health- and well-being institutions, we can ensure that we provide high quality support. Besides this there are also youth organizations, support charities, companies and individuals assisting @ease.

The @ease charity has officially been granted an ‘ANBI-mark’, a Dutch norm for charities, since 2019. This means that we invest at least 90% into the general utility. Besides being recognized as an institution, this status has the benefit of allowing donators to claim a fiscal deduction in the beginning. The ANBI-status also requires that you can see an overview of our most important details.

Contact information

Stichting @ease
Lantaarnstraat 9a
6211 KX Maastricht
RSIN/fiscaal nummer ANBI858005359

To promote the mental, physical, and social wellbeing of young people.

Click here for our policy plan in Dutch.

  • Van der Velpen, P., Chairman
  • Huizer, J.H., Bestuurder, treasurer
  • Klaassen-Boatfield, M.C., board member
  • van Amelsvoort, T.A.M.J., board member

Advisory board

  • Doodeheefver, A.B.A.
  • van Rotterdam, J.M.
  • Janssen, J.M.
  • Popma, A.

The board and the advisory board are unsullied. Board members don’t receive any compensation; however, they can have the right to request compensation for potential expenses.

Click here for a report of completed activities in the year 2020.

Click here for a report of completed activities in the year 2019.

Click here for a report of completed activities in the year 2018.

Nationally, the @ease foundation is made possible by, amongst others, the Innovatiefonds Zorgverzekeraars, the Kenniscentrum Kinder- en Jeugdpsychiatrie, FNO Geestkracht, and the ministry of WVS. Locally the municipality and others ensure that youngsters can visit the @ease locations. Through the very valued input by professionals from various health- and well-being institutions we can ensure that we provide qualitatively high support together with our volunteers. Besides this there are also youth organizations, support charities, companies and individuals that assist @ease.

Click here for the financial overview for the year 2018.
Click here for the financial overview for the year 2019.
Click here for the financial overview for the year 2020

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