Caroline Braet

     Caroline Braet


What is your main driver for doing research?

Understanding why people do what they do, even when it is not helpful or even harmful (for themselves, for others). More specific I’m studying cognitions, emotions and behavior in children and adolescents and the relation with symptoms of psychopathology like eating problems, depression, etc. within a transactional ecological context.

Why do you believe that strengthening mental health is so important?

According recent views, psychological problems can be explained as the result of dynamic interactions between personal vulnerabilities and stressors. Detecting personal vulnerabilities and stressors as well as strengthening mental health of those suffering from high personal vulnerabilities and/or high stressors can prevent the development of serious psychopathology. Given that these youngsters have a lower quality of life and are at risk to develop psychopathology later in life, children’s mental health problems pose a high burden to the children themselves, their families, and the community.

Epidemiological studies estimate now that already  20% of children and adolescents have mental health problems. Every year, around 130.000 Flemish youngsters consult social care centers (10% of the youth population).

How could research change the world?

Extrapolating the costs for society of all children with mental health problems is estimated to account for 10% of the total mental health budget. Because of the chronic course, life-long consequences, and both direct and indirect costs to society, research to improve children’s mental health will have a major impact on society.

With whom outside academia did you already collaborate and achieved important results?

I participated in several working groups for advices on assessment/treatment of youngsters for Belgium policy makers like for Toegangspoort (IJZ) (2008-2014), KCE (2010-2011), FDGZ (2015-2016) and VAPH (2016-2017). I was also involved in the Netherlands for developing official policy guidelines for depression, obesity, eating disorders, and in Belgium for CEBAM and BASO.

For more than 15 years I’m a founding member of the Dissemination Institute ‘Eetexpert’, sponsored by Minister of Health for disseminating knowledge regarding eating and weight related problems.

For more than 20 years I’m involved in the organization of the 2-yearly Child Psychiatry and Child Psychotherapy Conferences in Flanders which is attended by >800 clinicians.

Further, for more than 30 years I trained (together with my group) professionals in the assessment and treatment of childhood problems (depression, eating problems) via Cure and Care (Nl), postgraduate courses, CLB, SIG, Kind & Gezin, for medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, dieticians, and students of Universities and Colleges. This has led to a broad valorization network and contacts with more than 100 social care institutes as places for internships of my students.

I published two authorized Dutch translated tests for clinicians: the FEEL-KJ and the CDI and communicated in Dutch trough more than 250 articles, chapters in books and more than 10 books for parents, children and professionals on psychological problems in children and adolescents. Among others, together with colleague Bögels, we published two volumes on 45 evidence-based treatment protocols in children and adolescents.



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