Grant for digital self-management platform for people with severe mental illness

Researchers at Tilburg University will develop a digital self-management platform for people with severe mental illness. The goal is to give this vulnerable group more control over their own mental health and thus reduce the pressure on mental health care. The development of the platform takes place in collaboration with several universities, healthcare professionals and patients. The project is made possible by a large grant from the Dutch Research Council.

The project is an initiative of the Academic Collaborative Center Digital Health and Mental Wellbeing of Tilburg University. Here scientists work together with social partners on solutions to various challenges around working on your own mental wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle using digital technologies and interventions. Co-applicants and funders for this project are Catholic University of Leuven, Maastricht University, Technical University Delft, mental health institutions GGZ Eindhoven and GGZ Breburg and the municipality of Tilburg.

Professors Inge Bongers and Emiel Krahmer (Sustainable Innovation for Mental Health and Communication, Cognition and Computation) are the academic leaders of the workshop and lead applicants for the project.

Inge Bongers: The award of this grant is the fantastic result of a joint effort of many. We are very much looking forward to get started with this. The societal relevance is obvious: psychological care is under great pressure and demand is only increasing. Thanks to technological developments, self-care is becoming increasingly normal in the mental domain. A lot is possible, but it is important that platforms and tools are scientifically proven to work and are actually used in practice. Especially for the very vulnerable target group of people with severe mental illness that we are focusing on with this project.

There are over 200,000 people in the Netherlands with severe mental illness, such as anxiety and personality disorders, bipolar disorder, depression or addiction. We speak of a severe mental illness when symptoms are long-term and tend to return after a stable phase. People with severe mental illness often experience problems in multiple areas of life such as dropping out of school, difficulty with social contacts and physical health and finding and maintaining employment. Consequently, this group makes frequent use of specialist mental health care.

The new project investigates, among other things, which characteristics can predict relapse of symptoms from moment to moment. Based on these insights, a self-help platform with tools that can be used in everyday life will be developed using digital technology. The multidisciplinary project involves researchers in digital technology, artificial intelligence, implementation and psychology. In developing the platform, users - people with EPA and mental health professionals - are in the lead.

Read an earlier interview with Inge Bongers here: " By 2030, mental self-care will be the most natural thing in the world."