Research into psychological problems

Psychological problems and conditions have a huge impact on people and society. Research will help us reinforce the quality and effectiveness of the support and care that can be provided to people with psychological problems. This is a means of investing in psychological health and preventing unnecessary psychological suffering.

The Research Programme Mental Healthcare facilitates scientific research into mental health care issues. There is attention for psychological health in other ZonMw programmes, too.

Research into the various phases of psychological problems

Research into psychological problems can broadly be broken down into 3 phases of psychological problems or conditions.

Firstly, research can focus on the early identification of problems or self-prevention. For example: How effective is early treatment of young people with depression

Alternatively, research can consider the correct diagnosis of psychological problems, the correct treatment and possibly the correct route to social recovery. Take for example the study by the Netherlands Autism Register (NAR), that is investigating which online interventions are best for dealing with sleeping problems and depression.

Finally, it is possible to investigate how people with psychological problems or conditions are offered tips and support in learning to live with their problems or condition. The Be a Barista study for example investigated whether learning and working projects are effective tools for helping people achieve personal and social recovery.

Types of research into psychological problems

Research can be conducted into psychological conditions and problems in many different ways. Longitudinal studies are for example used to chart out the long-term development of a condition or problems. Alternatively, studies can focus on favourably influencing the course of the illness, recovery and preventing relapse. One example is the study into mental resilience during pregnancy to prevent postnatal depression. Practice-based research focuses on developing and applying knowledge that offers direct solutions for use in practice. This form of research is often more short-term.

Fellowships: offering talent opportunities for ground-breaking research in mental healthcare

By offering individual grants, ZonMw is encouraging innovative, creative and ground-breaking research in mental healthcare. Professionals with creative ideas are actively involved in the research work, and researchers are given the opportunity to elaborate their innovative scientific ideas. This has a major impact on them individually and on science: read more here.

What psychological problems are being studied?

Our studies generate knowledge about a variety of psychological conditions and problems. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, there has been much attention for the mental resilience of young people, and a study has been launched into the consequences of COVID-19 for mental health. There are also studies into ADHD, eating disorders, personality problems, etc.

Research into autism

Results of research work can improve recognition, diagnosis and the quality of life of people with an autism spectrum disorder.
‘What will really help is the fact that using algorithms, we are attempting in advance to estimate the effectiveness of the intervention in a specific child with ASD.’ - read more in
this interview.

> Read more about research into autism

Research into depression

Depression-related problems can have a huge impact on the quality of life and all related aspects. Research into early recognition and early intervention is being used to prevent worse outcomes. There is also research into which treatment works best for which individuals.

> Read more about research into depression

Research into suicide prevention

Is it possible to prevent suicide? What signals are there and what is the best response? These and other questions are the subject of various studies.
Read here about the insights from past research and view current projects.

> Read more about research into suicide prevention

Research into addiction

Every year, around 200,000 people become addicted in the Netherlands. And yet not everyone becomes an addict. Using the results of research, we want to understand how you can prevent someone from slipping into misuse and addiction, following just a single use. At present, the focus of studies is on drug addition, alcohol addiction and gambling addiction.

> Read more about research into addiction

Research into misunderstood behaviour

If people are struggling with problems in multiple areas of their life, they often also suffer psychological problems. They can lose control of their life, and manifest misunderstood behaviour. With its Action Programme Grip op Onbegrip ZonMw is working to establish solid networks around these people and their environment.

> Read more about research into misunderstood behaviour

What happens in your brain in the event of a psychological problem?

A great deal of research has already been conducted into the relationship between what happens in your brain, and the psychological problems you experience. That same research, however, also reveals that a great deal is still unclear. That is why ZonMw is funding research into this aspect. And contributing to the Nationaal Plan Hoofdzaken. Read more on the page about the brain




If you have any questions, you are able to find our contact information below.

Marloes van der Maas
Senior programmamanager
onderzoeksprogrammaggz [at]
Miryea Ruiz
onderzoeksprogrammaggz [at]
Tamara Adonis
onderzoeksprogrammaggz [at]