PhD in Socio-legal Aspects of Digital Mental Health

Tilburg University | Tilburg Law School is looking for a PhD in Socio-legal Aspects of Digital Mental Health for the Department Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT), location Tilburg, Scientific area: Law/socio-legal studies.
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Tilburg University


We offer a PhD position of 4 years, in the area of Socio-legal Aspects of Digital Mental Health, as part of the vibrant and interdisciplinary Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society (TILT). The objective of the PhD position is to provide a socio-legal research of responsibilities and liabilities in digital mental health, in either an EU and/or a Dutch context. There is flexibility for the PhD candidate to decide on their own focus within the overall project, which includes flexibility in the exact methodologies chosen.

Tilburg Law School is seeking an enthusiastic colleague for the PhD position in Socio-legal Aspects of Digital Mental Health at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society.

The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the use of digital technologies for mental health. Seen as an accessible and effective way of offering certain therapies or assisting in-person therapy, applications and online platforms are often used in mental health practice. In addition, private-sector interest in mental health technologies has surged as well, with big tech companies increasingly playing a particularly large role in providing mental health support and predicting who is at risk of, for instance, attempting suicide.

The use of digital mental health by public and private providers alike leads to a number of ethical, legal, and social issues. One of the interesting elements is that of responsibilities, and boundaries in responsibility when technologies change therapeutic relationships. For instance, how do therapists negotiate responsibility when clients are in crisis and contact them out-of-hours? What do their guidelines say (as soft law)? Or consider private companies engaging in suicide prevention using algorithms. Are they responsible also in cases of false positives and negatives, and if so, how and how much? To what extent can private companies be bound by the same rules and regulations as medical professionals abiding professional guidelines and health laws? And when and how are private (or public, for that matter) companies allowed or obliged to share data they gather with, for instance, law enforcement or research institutes?

The research question that is central to this PhD-project is:

How do public and private providers, offering (partly) digital mental health treatment or prevention/prediction, negotiate responsibilities and boundaries, especially in crisis situations, and how can this be improved?

The candidate will work under supervision of co-promotor and daily supervisor Dr Tineke Broer, with Professor Dr. Linnet Taylor as promotor, and will be spending 80% of their time on research, with the remaining 20% on teaching.

The PhD candidate will be working within TILT, an interdisciplinary institute working on the intersection of law & technology, and host of the Master Law & Technology. At TILT, we organize various department meetings, research seminars, and other means of exchanging ideas. The PhD candidate will be part of the Regulation and Governance cluster within TILT, which is the most interdisciplinary cluster within TILT, with people working on e.g. data justice, epistemic injustice, health care, standardization, and use of data.


What do we ask?
Tilburg University is curious about how you can contribute to our research, education, impact, and to the team you will be part of. Therefore, we would like to get the best possible picture of your knowledge, insight, skills, and personality. Below you can find the qualifications we consider important for the position.

The candidate:

  • holds a bachelor and master in Science & Technology Studies, sociology, Liberal Arts & Sciences, or a related social discipline or equivalent on 1 September 2024 at the latest;
  • has a demonstrated interest in socio-legal aspects of technology, as well as in qualitative research;
  • has a demonstrated interest in the field of (digital) mental health;
  • has an excellent written and spoken command of English;
  • has interest in working in an interdisciplinary environment, and wants to contribute to the broader TILT and TLS communities;
  • has interest in teaching and supervising students at Bachelor and Master level (e.g., tutorial groups, thesis supervision).
  • demonstrates scientific integrity
  • contributes to an open and inclusive organizational culture.

To maintain a vibrant and active university community, it is important that we meet each other regularly and that the connection between us remains good. Therefore, the premise is that all staff members carry out their work in the Netherlands and that teaching is done in person.


Tilburg University's motto is Understanding Society. Based on this vision, our almost 2,800 employees conduct research, inspire more than 19,000 students of 110 nationalities, and bring people from different disciplines and organizations together to learn from each other. In this way, we want to contribute to solving complex social issues. In doing so, we work from the fields of economics, business and entrepreneurship, social and behavioral sciences, law and public administration, humanities and digital sciences, and theology. We seek the connection between the various disciplines to find solutions to the major issues we face as a society. Our students are educated to become responsible and entrepreneurial thinkers, driven by solidarity, a sense of responsibility, and empathy, who are able to influence and give direction to a rapidly changing society in an innovative way. Tilburg University has a culture of collaboration and co-creation, at local, regional, national, and international level.

Since its founding in 1963, Tilburg Law School has become one of the leading law schools in Europe. Through top research and the provision of high-quality university education, the School contributes to society. Tilburg Law School is organized into five Departments: Public Law and Governance; Law, Technology, Markets and Society; Private, Business and Labour Law; the Fiscal Institute Tilburg; and Criminal Law. The mission of the School is to understand and improve the role of law and public administration in addressing the social problems of today and tomorrow. Through research and education, our scholars contribute to that mission.

More than 4,000 students pursue a Bachelor's, pre-Master's or Master's degree at Tilburg Law School. Through this education, we train students in law, public administration, and data science. The Tilburg Educational Profile (TEP) is unique in the Netherlands. Central to it are three core concepts: knowledge, skill and character. A university education provides students with the latest substantive knowledge and trains them to be critical thinkers and resilient professionals. In addition, the School is committed to innovative educational concepts and, partly in response to the coronavirus crisis, has invested heavily in the quality of online education and in innovative didactic tools to make and keep students inquisitive.

Tilburg Law School's research is highly regarded nationally and internationally. The Tilburg Law School Departments work closely together in their research in four signature research programs: 1) Global Law and Governance; 2) Law and Security; 3) Connecting Organizations; and 4) Regulating Socio-Technical Change.


What do we offer?
Tilburg University offers excellent terms of employment with attention to flexibility and room for (personal) development. We recognize and reward our employees and encourage the use of talents and strengths.

Tilburg University is committed to an open and inclusive culture, embracing diversity, and encouraging the mutual integration of groups of staff and students. We create equal opportunities for all our staff and students so that everyone feels at home in our university community. We especially encourage applications from underrepresented groups, such as in relation to gender and sexuality, experience with mental illness, or ethnicity.

We work in a vibrant and lively (work) environment on our beautiful campus, close to the forest and easily accessible by public transport. We are committed to a sustainable society and challenge you to make an active contribution to this.

For this position, we offer:

  • A position based on 1.0 FTE (40 hours per week);
  • It is a vacancy for 4 years. You will initially be appointed for a fixed period of 16 months with a statutory probationary period of two months. After 12 months, an evaluation will take place. If the performance evaluation is positive, your employment agreement will be extended for the remaining period of 32 months.
  • A start salary of €2.770 gross per month for full time employment, based on UFO profile PhD Candidate and salary scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. Tilburg University uses a neutral remuneration system for salary scaling;
  • Vacation allowance (8%) and a year-end bonus (8.3%);
  • Vacation days (41 days for a 40-hour work week);
  • Full reimbursement of commuting expenses for sustainable travel: walking, biking and public transportation;
  • Moving allowance;
  • Options Model for benefits and reimbursement of expenses;
  • Employees from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a tax-free allowance of 30/20/10% of their taxable wages. We will apply for this reimbursement for you;
  • You will be enrolled in the General Pension Fund for Public Employers (ABP) through us;
  • Various training courses, for example in leadership skills, personal effectiveness, and career development;
  • A wide range of amenities and facilities and various arrangements to create an optimal work-life balance.

Visit working at Tilburg University for more information on our terms of employment.

Meer informatie

We invite you to apply online for this position by March 31st (23:59 CEST).
More information about the vacancy can be obtained from Dr. Tineke Broer, T.Broer_1@tilburguniversity.edu.