The origins of ACCESS are firmly rooted in concerns for the mental well-being of the international community of The Hague, although we have since expanded our reach to the rest of the Netherlands, with physical presence also in Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Leiden. This term encompassed not simply the active needs at the time, but had a preventive component as well. ACCESS was also established to "...promote the emotional and social well-being for English-speaking people in the Netherlands."
30 Years of ACCESS
In commemoration of our 30th Anniversary we are grateful for the support of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) for allowing us to capture, and share the history of our organisation. Much has changed in 30 years, especially in terms of information availability, nonetheless, having expats help expats remains at the heart of what we do.
Download the commemorative book The Story of ACCESS here.
In 1985, working at the American School and through meetings with school administrators, business people, and clergy, Patrick Foley, an American School Counsellor, became aware of a problem. There was a preponderance of family conflicts, marital problems, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression in English-speaking house-holds.
English-speakers were reluctant to work with Dutch psychologists because of cultural and language differences. As a result, there was no organised response to mental health issues specific to the English-speaking community.
With support from the broader English speaking community at the time, plus a subsidy from the US Department of Health a Community Mental Health Needs Assessment was undertaken. It recommended the establishment of a network of "qualified and competent" English-speaking expatriate psychologists; developing educational and professional criteria for network membership; and creating easier access to the network via a "telephone contact point" with an on-call counsellor.
The CSN (Counsellor Service Network) continues to serve these same needs 30 years on. And ACCESS, building on this cornerstone has, through its volunteer network continued to support the needs of the community in a preventive manner, by not only offering volunteering opportunities to many, but by adding to their services educational, training, self-help and self-improvement courses and information, in English and tailored to the needs of an expatriate community.