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PhD candidate in Network Analysis and Urban Mental Health Interventions

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences – Centre for Urban Mental Health

PhD candidate in Network Analysis and Urban Mental Health Interventions
Publicatiedatum 21 november 2019
Sluitingsdatum 8 december 2019
Opleidingsniveau Master's degree
Functieomvang 38 hours per week
Salarisindicatie €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month
Vacaturenummer 19-794

The Centre for Urban Mental Health welcomes applications for an approved PhD project at the University of Amsterdam within the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences - Departments Psychology and Communication science.
Are you exceptionally interested in interdisciplinary research, and specifically in using complexity science to identify new leverage points for urban mental health interventions embedded in communication research and psychology? Is it your ambition to become a top-tier researcher? We’re looking for a PhD student to work on individual symptom-networks over time, with data acquired using ecological momentary assessment (EMA).             ]

Goal is not only to develop an individual’s symptom-network, but also to discuss the outcomes (with help of a clinician) and co-create personally relevant interventions, based on these models, which are subsequently tested using EMA data in multiple samples.

This project will be supervised by Prof. Reinout Wiers and Dr Sacha Epskamp (Psychology) and Prof. Julia van Weert and Dr Barbara Schouten (Communication Science). This PhD position is part of the Centre for Urban Mental Health. The Centre for Urban Mental Health is a newly formed research priority area funded by the University of Amsterdam. The Centre aims to unravel new pathways to improve Urban Mental Health that takes into account the complexities and dynamics of mental health problems and mental health disorders in an urban environment. As part of the Centre, this PhD will be hosted at the department of Communication Science and further participate at the department of Psychology and the Institute for Advanced Studies. This project will be interdisciplinary by nature and you will work together with experts from various fields including communication, methodology, psychology and psychiatry.

Project description

Many common mental health problems (addictions, anxieties, depressions) and related problems (e.g., loneliness) do not come in isolation but in clusters of symptoms. In symptom network models, symptoms are not seen as indicators of an underlying latent factor, but the causal interplay of the symptoms is the mental disorder. Importantly, in network models, symptoms do not 'stop at the border of diagnoses,' and symptoms traditionally related to other disorders can play an important role. This is important in understanding and treating addictions and related problems where comorbidity is rule rather than exception. General aim of the project here is to develop a network-based method to map an individual’s problems including the interactions between symptoms and external factors influencing these symptoms (e.g., other people, physical contexts, etc.), which will be used to develop interventions in collaboration with clients (collaborative science approach). Since many common mental health problems (addictions, anxieties, depressions) and related problems (e.g., loneliness) do not come in isolation but in clusters of symptoms, the causal interplay of the network of symptoms and factors related to these symptoms will be identified through modelling of rich temporal real-time data assessed with ecological momentary assessment (EMA). This will lead to insights regarding causal relations. The approach will be used to develop personalized intervention and will be tested in multiple samples: a student sample in higher education, who increasingly experience mental health problems, and vulnerable samples of groups from ethnic minorities. A collaborative citizen science approach, in which citizens are actively involved in determining the nature of their problem and test possible solutions for it, will be used.

What will you be doing?

You are expected to gather the data and to work out methodological innovations to estimate network models from such data gathered in a clinical setting.  You will develop personalized interventions (i.e. derive or adapt treatment plans) from these estimated network structures, in collaboration with a clinician and clients, and evaluate these interventions.    

What do we require of you?

You have:

  • a (research)master in psychology, communication science or related discipline;
  • experience with network modelling or related skills and/or experience with analyses of intense data acquired with Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA);
  • experience with analysing and programming in R;
  • experience with time series analysis and/or methodological research;
  • knowledge of and affinity with developmental psychopathology or clinic psychology and/or migrant mental health is recommended;
  • an excellent written and spoken command of the English language, speaking Dutch or willingness to learn Dutch is recommended;
  • the ability, willingness, and commitment to work in a team, including colleagues from the faculty of Medicine (AMC) and the faculty of Science (FNWI);
  • strong communication and social skills.

What can we offer you?

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.


The position concerns a temporary appointment of 38 hours per week. The initial appointment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 36 months which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will also be tasked to teach Bachelor's students (15%).

Your salary will be €2,325 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €2,972 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8,3%.

Would you like to learn more about working at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)? Visit our website.

Further information

If you have any questions about this position you may contact:

For information about the relevant departments and centres:

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Does this profile sound like you? If so, we are eager to receive:

  • a resume;
  • a 1-page motivation letter describing why you wish to pursue this project and how you see yourself fitting into the project description;
  • a list of finished courses and their grades.

For applicants that are not past/current master students at the Department of Psychology or the Department of Communication Science from the University of Amsterdam, we subsequently require:

  • a letter of support from a (former) supervisor.

You are expected to start in January or February 2020. You may apply online by clicking on the link below.

The deadline for applications is 8 December 2019. Interviews will take place on 18 December 2019. LI-DNP

No agencies please

Apply now