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Digital applications in mental health care



In an era of modern technology, new and exciting opportunities to implement digital applications in mental health care are key to advancing the field of diagnosis and treatment of psychopathology in children and adolescents. This course will provide students with insights in the associated opportunities, as well as challenges and limitations of digital applications that have been developed to promote child development and to diminish social, behavioral and emotional problems. Rapid developments in the field of eHealth require all stakeholders to have up-to-date knowledge about the pros and cons of such digital innovations in the field of mental health care. Students will learn about digital interventions (such as serious games, virtual reality, online parent training and computerized cognitive training) that are available for symptom remediation of neurodevelopmental conditions including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD. State of the art technologies offer advanced and outstanding opportunities to positively influence development of vulnerable youth. Can children with ADHD learn to control impulsive behaviors through serious gaming? Does practicing with digital interactions in virtual social worlds help adolescents with ASD to improve their social skills? Decisions to implement such techniques should be based on scientific evidence supporting effectiveness, embedded in the knowledge we have about (atypical) brain development, characteristics of the target population and ways to change problematic behavior. Can we alter the cognitive and behavioral functioning of youth with various clinical conditions, and which factors are key to success? Considering the need to provide optimal and tailored healthcare for vulnerable children and adolescents, students will learn to critically evaluate developments in the field of digital interventions, analyze their effectiveness, consider ethical aspects and reflect on implementation in different clinical contexts and for different clinical conditions.

Course objectives

  • By the end of the course, the student can reflect on the ethical aspects of digital developments in mental health care.

  • By the end of the course, the student is able to identify the challenges and opportunities of developing and implementing digital interventions in mental health care.

  • By the end of the course, the student can recognize the specific needs of several paediatric psychiatric populations regarding digital applications in mental health care.

  • During the course, the student is able to read, interpret and critically evaluate scientific publications on digital interventions for psychiatric populations.

  • During the course, the student is able to write a scientific paper and to orally present the results of research into digital interventions.


Lectures Exams

Method of instruction

There will be eight lectures and two seminars.

Method of assessment

The final grade is based upon a written exam and an essay The final grade should be sufficient to pass the course. Students can pass the course with an insufficient score for the exam or essay, as long as the final grade is sufficient.
Furthermore, students should give a presentation, which are evaluated individually (‘pass’/’fail’).In order to pass the course, the presentation should be evaluated as ‘pass’.


During this course Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

Scientific publications, to be announced on Blackboard.



Students need to register for lectures in uSis. It is not possible to take a course without a valid registration.


Students are not automatically registered for exams. They can register themselves in uSis until 10 calendar days before the exam date at the latest. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the exam.

Please consult the course and exam registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.

Contact information

The co-ordinator of this course is Dr. Carlijn Bergwerff