Evaluating changes in functioning and psychological distress in visitors of the @ease youth mental health walk-in centres

Anouk Boonstra*, Therese A.M.J. Van Amelsvoort, Rianne M.C. Klaassen, Arne Popma, Nina H. Grootendorst-Van Mil, Wim Veling, Remco F.P. De Winter, Nynke Boonstra, Sophie M.J. Leijdesdorff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review



Highly accessible youth initiatives worldwide aim to prevent worsening of mental health problems, but research into outcomes over time is scarce. 


This study aimed to evaluate outcomes and support use in 12- to 15-year-old visitors of the @ease mental health walk-in centres, a Dutch initiative offering free counselling by trained and supervised peers.


Data of 754 visitors, collected 2018-2022, included psychological distress (Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation 10 (CORE-10)), social and occupational functioning (Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale (SOFAS)), school absenteeism and support use, analysed with change indicators (first to last visit), and mixed models (first three visits).


Among return visitors, 50.5% were female, 79.4% were in tertiary education and 36.9% were born outside of The Netherlands (one-time visitors: 64.7%, 72.9% and 41.3%, respectively). Moreover, 29.9% of return visitors presented with suicidal ideations, 97.1% had clinical psychological distress levels, and 64.1% of the latter had no support in the previous 3 months (one-time visitors: 27.2%, 90.7% and 71.1%, respectively). From visit 1 to 3, psychological distress decreased (β = -3.79, 95% CI -5.41 to -2.18; P < 0.001) and social and occupational functioning improved (β = 3.93, 95% CI 0.51-7.36; P = 0.025). Over an average 3.9 visits, 39.6% improved reliably and 28.0% improved clinically significantly on the SOFAS, which was 28.4% and 8.8%, respectively, on the CORE-10, where 43.2% improved in clinical category. Counselling satisfaction was rated 4.5/5. 


Reductions in psychological distress, improvements in functioning and high counselling satisfaction were found among @ease visitors, forming a basis for future research with a control group.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere101
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2024

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Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Royal College of Psychiatrists.


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