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The UvA’s GP practice will be officially opening a new health centre on the Roeterseiland campus on 1 September. The centre will house branches of the UvA general practitioners office, Studentist dental practice, dietician practice Samen Sterk, and Mentaal Beter psychologist's practice. There will also be PsyPoli – a treatment centre from the Faculty of Social and Behavourial Science’s programme group Clinical Psychology – as well as physiotherapists from the University Sports Centre.

Roeterseiland campus (photo: Jordi Huisman)

The UvA has been providing doctor’s services to its students since before World War Two. In 1981, the university set up a general practice on the Oude Turfmarkt in the centre of the city. The health centre is the brainchild of the head GP, Peter Vonk, who has been with the practice almost since its inception. Vonk: ‘The opening of this health centre is the culmination of a long-held wish for our practice. We outgrew our space at the Oude Turfmarkt some time ago, and since a majority of our patients study on the Roeterseiland campus this was the obvious location for us to open a new branch.’

Vonk continues: ‘Having all these disciplines in one place will make it possible for us to give our patients more complete care. In addition, there is a direct link between the Centre and the UvA’s research – for example, it will enable researchers from the PsyPoli to develop new therapies and improve other therapies. It will also be a true academic workplace, which will benefit both the clients of the practice and the university itself.’

Extra focus on mental health and eHealth

‘Many students suffer from mental health problems, especially in these times of coronavirus,’ says Vonk. ‘We encourage anyone struggling to come and talk to us. We also offer an extensive range of eHealth programmes. For all health problems, whether related to mental health, or other common issues in student populations, like alcohol or drugs, stress, burnout or sexuality, it is best to tackle them at the earliest possible stage. Our eHealth programmes, which we want to improve further in the coming period, help with this. The advantage is that you don’t have to keep going to the doctor to discuss your problems (many people find that very difficult). Instead, you can tackle various problems from home on your own.’

Reinout Wiers, professor of developmental psychopathology at UvA, previously collaborated with the GP practice and PsyPoli in the UvAcare project. UvAcare encouraged students and PhD candidates to take a moment to stop and think about their well-being and provided them with a health check to help take their ‘mental temperature’. Wiers: ‘I’m excited about the possibilities now that the REC health centre is up and running. I hope it will serve as a springboard for further collaboration aimed at improving mental health of UvA students, which is more important than ever in these times.’