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Design of digital technology and machine learning solutions for mental health

The significant societal and economic impact of mental health conditions worldwide is well documented. With a growing awareness of mental health, the pressing need to streamline access to sustainable care services is now an imperative. Whereas digital technologies have, in principle, the potential to address these issues, a set of challenges that are more user-centred than technical in nature need to be overcome, as they represent the key obstacle in design and acceptance of technology advancement.

This project will fill a knowledge gap by elucidating key factors influencing user attitudes towards digital technology, with an emphasis on solutions enabled by machine learning, in relation to mental health care. It will lay the foundations for an ambitious long-term programme of user engagement and technology development to the benefit of patients and care professionals.

The successful candidate will take responsibility for design, planning, execution, and evaluation of a range of activities with end users (general public, patients, and care professionals, as appropriate). The selected candidate will play a key role in understanding opportunities and barriers towards inclusive access to digitally-enhanced mental health care services.

The ideal candidate’s profile combines proficiency in state-of-the-art user-centred design processes with technical competency in relation to Artificial Intelligence, and machine learning in particular. A Masters’ degree is desired but not essential.

Doctoral Research (PhD) programmes are a key component of the Brunel strategy to deliver world-class research and achieve positive impact, and Doctoral Researchers are valued by their supervisors as an essential part of their team. A PhD programme is expected to take 3 years full-time (6 years part-time), with yearly intakes in January, April, and October.

The successful candidate will work in the Brunel Design School and will be supervised by Dr Federico Colecchia, who specialises in emerging technologies and innovation at the intersection between technical development and user-centred design. They will have access to a broad network of relevant stakeholders and will benefit from a range of support services that Brunel University London offers to their Doctoral Researchers, including professional skills and career development support.

For informal enquiries about the research project, please email

The University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second-Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1), or international equivalent. A Master’s degree is a welcome, but not required, qualification for entry.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Related Research Group(s)

Design and Manufacturing

Design and Manufacturing - Developing products, services and manufacturing processes that will deliver economically and environmentally sustainable solutions, based on design principles derived from an understanding of human capabilities and limitations.