Student Life

HTH partners with OOPKOP to expand students' mental health resources

Hotelschool The Hague launched a partnership with OOPKOP at the beginning of the academic year 22/23 to expand the mental health offerings to our students. OOPKOP, which means Open Minds in Afrikaans, is an online platform that helps people increase their mental fitness through several services by 150+ highly qualified partners.

After launching the Student Wellbeing project within the school, the in-house Student Counselors and the collaboration with Expat Psychologists, HTH now expands its mental health resources via OOPKOP.

From coaching, psychologists, breath work and sleeping techniques, to yoga, meditation and on-demand workshops, students can find what fits their personal preferences on the platform and start sessions individually and anonymously. Due to the partnership, all HTH students have a discounted price.

OOPKOP was founded in 2021 by Reinier de van der Schueren and Derk van Haastert, both alumni of Hotelschool The Hague. Yasemin Oruc (Senior Lecturer Marketing & Innovation and Research Fellow) met with Reinier and Derk to give some insights into the company and the partnership with HTH.

(Yasemin) What did you do after graduating from Hotelshool The Hague and how was OOPKOP founded?

Reinier: After working for almost 11 years at Heineken, I embarked on my own personal development journey through life coaching, mindfulness, and retreats. Through these practices, I started questioning why coaching and mental health support is not implemented in most companies. Once I was back from a work project in Singapore in 2020, I went for a walk with Derk, and right there we decided to create our own company.

Derk: We both graduated from Hotelschool The Hague and worked at Heineken, but my stimuli with mental health and wellbeing started a little bit earlier in life. My first link with therapy happened when I was 19 years old after a health-related situation in my family. The second one was at the end of my studies at HTH, a period when I was trying to figure out what I want to do in my life, and where I want to evolve and move forward. The third stimulation came a little later in my journey at Heineken, questioning how employees can stay mentally fit; this is when I got in touch with Reinier and started OOPKOP. Companies can now partner with OOPKOP to increase the mental health of their employees.

"We do not want to provide just a platform, but offer a space where students can grow and get support. We want them to understand the importance of personal development and how this can become a crucial part of their student journey."

Derk & Reinier - Founders of OOPKOP

Yasemin: So, OOPKOP was initially for employees. Why did you decide to open up the platform to students as well?

Both: Indeed, we started the OOPKOP having in mind companies and employees but once we kept going, research showed that almost 50% of students deal with stress and struggle with mental health issues. We directly dived into opening up our platform to students as well. In the end, students turn into employees eventually so why not prevent and provide earlier in their path the suitable resources?

That’s a great point because in HTH we have this philosophy that we don’t want to only train students on EQ and IQ but also on how to deal with positive psychology and resilience. In that sense, How do you view the development of resilience in such a student journey and how do you think HTH connects to mental health?

We are true advocates of “learning by doing”, being out there, and experiencing life. Hotelschool The Hague is the best environment to experience life through so many parts of practical education; internships, living abroad and having to communicate and interact with people from different backgrounds and nationalities. Skotel is definitely also a point of life where resilience was taught, living with so many people, and in the end becoming a big family.

Back then when we were students, mental health was not really a thing. Through all these different experiences at HTH, you also get an insight into your own self and this is where OOPKOP can help with; emphasizing personal development and support when students are dealing with stress, rejections, workload, thesis and so much more.

Even if the platform launched in 2021, are there already data from people using the platform? And how do you see this collaboration moving forward?

Both: After a year of active usage, every topic and service we offer is used, breaking down barriers to investing in personal development. We see great usage of our sleep support sessions, breath work, and our masterclasses. Coaching is not the one and only answer, and this is where the success of OOPKOP lies; people are different and want different approaches., and users are exploring all offerings rather than just coaching. We really hope to become the go-to platform for everyone to start exploring the different aspects of personal development in an early stage of life. Our philosophy is not only for people who suffer from mental health issues but for people who want to start their personal development journey at any stage of their life. Even if this partnership is to support HTH students, support staff and also lecturers could use the platform and embark on their own mental fit ride.

How do you take care of your own well-being?

Derk: As founders of OOPKOP we explore the services of our partners and participate in the programmes they offer. Breath work sessions and ice bath challenges are some of the practices I have experienced.

Reinier: My go-to rituals to take care of my well-being are jumping every morning in the Amstel river for 7 minutes, having a morning routine, and turning off my laptop and phone to enjoy my evening.