Student Well-Being

Sadly, or intriguingly enough, the good, old joke that all philosophers are depressed is in many of our communities not all a stereotype.

To give more nuance than mere depression: being disoriented, complex, unsatisfied, doubtful, frustrated, and even lost are traits surely present and easier to find in our community than others. It goes hand in hand with the thinking, the tendency for analysis and awareness, and the pondering and meditating on values and on anything that many of us share – all in all, it’s expected, so it’s okay.

But, being in this community and around people who do have an idea of what it’s like to feel complex, you surely already know that “it’s okay”. Of course, it’s okay, it would be nice to get more than that and have some inspiration or wisdom to feel better. It’s everyone’s responsibility to try to be good, and, given our character as human beings, it’s a chain, and our well-being influences that of others. So, yes, it’s perfectly acceptable and expected to feel bad, let’s do more than that and try to be good, because it’s possible, because it’s on so many levels much better than feeling bad (as simple as it sounds), and because we should just really try.

Find here a list of acquired ideas and inspiration on the topic (excuse the inevitable coloring from your own experience) and below that a straightforward, informative guide on how to get therapy – mostly useful for internationals.

– Make sure you have a community of people and a good support system. Please don’t underestimate the richness, depth, and magic, other than the support, that people bring. Invest in people, have initiative, put time and open-mindedness and intention into your relationships.

Cinema therapy: a Cineville card for (cinema membership) in the Netherlands costs only 18 euros a month and enables (almost) absolute unlimited access to all movie theaters in the country (surely to all three there are in Leiden). You need to keep the membership for at least 3 months before you can cancel it, but it’s an idea to break from the weekly routine, get various kinds of inspiration that films offer, and have something agreeably nice to do to fill up the days.
Link to Cineville website

Work: if being constantly out of time is not the issue for you at the moment, consider starting working. For easy, accessible-to-all, no abilities needed work, you can always give being a delivery rider (Flink, Getir, Thuisbezorgd, Albert Heijn) a go. You get to ride an electric bike with Flink, just play music or podcasts while you get to places, and have a good wage – and just know that it’s a constructive and satisfying way to employ your time, if you happen to be unsure of that at some point. Other good ideas can be in the many kitchens and cafes that there are in Leiden – even if you are not necessarily passionate about food and service, you might quickly find it very meditative and satisfying.

– If you have been struggling for long, and intricately, and severely, or if you are in therapy at the moment and pondering on this, I suggest being open-minded on medication and antidepressants. They are not addictive, not a happiness-pill, not an easy way out – none of that at all. Do your research, know that antidepressants (SSRI’s and other types) are vastly different from Benzodiazepines (for many essential, but highly addictive, numbing, and overall rather damaging), and know that medication is good.

Psychotherapy guide
Health insurance needed. If not, single therapy sessions are generally around 100-150 euros.
AON student insurance (not Dutch health insurance) is only 25 euros a month for EHIC holders, but you will need to pay in advance, send bills to Zilveren Kruis, and only after their response be able send them to AON for a refund. So let’s move onto the best option:

Dutch health insurance. Compare them on Link to Independer website. Read about them, what kind of therapy the basis one covers, and see if you want to add a specific psychotherapy module for extra care. Then get the government refund it for you on So, yes, you get almost all costs of health insurance refunded.
Once health insurance is settled, get a General Practicioner (GP), and get linked to a psychotherapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. The waiting lists will be of around two months at best, unless you’re luckier.

The university also offers student psychologists. Link to Student Psychologist page.
I care to mention that everyone should try this if they don’t have access to anything else at the time, but there is a risk of limited depth and understanding to more specific, peculiar, and unique issues that many of us might have. Just try, but if you feel like you aren’t understood, just know that this form of therapy is not all that therapy is.