Opening lecture Tom Smits: The relationship between stress and mental health

Medical Facts Editorial / Janine Padding November 07 2022 – 07:45

Fight, run, or freeze? Evolutionarily speaking, the chemical and physiological processes associated with stress have been beneficial to the survival of our species. Even today, stress still has its benefits. However, excessive stress also leads to problems. From mood disorders and anxiety to unhealthy habits and addictions. In his inaugural lecture on November 4, Clinical Psychology Professor Tom Smits will discuss the role of stress in the development and maintenance of psychological complaints and the possibilities offered by digital mental health care and self-care technology to anticipate complaints or prevent relapse.

Tom Smits and colleagues use research and experimental lab data obtained through the experimental sampling method to map stress dynamics within people. With this vast amount of data, it is hoped that we will be able to identify in individual patients how these stress dynamics are related to the onset, maintenance or recurrence of psychological complaints or deviant behavior. With the help of smartphones, activity trackers and other wearable devices, for example, these insights help patients and practitioners to recognize early warning signs, so that timely action can be taken and relapse prevented.

Specifically, Tom Smeets’ research will focus on delivering interventions to deliver assistance at the right time and in the right context. For example, an online intervention is being developed that teaches people to deal with stress in a more positive way. In the coming years, Tom Smeets will focus on several interdisciplinary research projects on the dynamics of stress and psychological care in their living environment through e-health interventions. By mapping to predict psychological complaints, existing complaints can be reduced and positive behavioral change can be achieved.

Personal Biography Tom Smits

Tom Smits (1978, Heusden-Zolder, Belgium) studied Psychology and obtained a master’s degree summa cum laude from Maastricht University in 2003. Subsequently he received his Ph.D. in January 2007 from the same university with a thesis entitled Painful memories: acute stress, cortisol, and false memories. Tom Smits was Associate Professor and Deputy Dean for Education in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University. He has received various grants for research into (consequences) of stress, including the NWO Rubicon, VENI and VIDI grant. His administrative duties include managing the Center for Research on Mental Disorders and Somatic Diseases (CoRPS) at Tilburg University, a board member of the School for Research in Experimental Psychopathology (EPP), and a board member of the RINO-Zuid Postgraduate Training Institute. Since January 1, 2019, Tom Smits has been Professor of Clinical Psychology and Head of the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology at the Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences (TSB).

Early in January 2019, Tom Smits was appointed Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Due to circumstances including the COVID-19 pandemic, he will deliver his inaugural address titled ‘Stress and Psychopathology: A Dynamic Relationship’ on Friday 4 November 2022.

Source: Tilburg University

Medical Facts Editorial / Janine Padding

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