On 6th May 2015, Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes became President of the British Psychological Society (and I became President-Elect).
One of our first public actions was to issue a press release to mark the Society’s response to mental health awareness week.
I hope that our statement gives people a clear illustration of our approach, and how we expect the Society to play its part in confronting some of the key psychological and social challenges. We realise that these are large, complex issues, and we understand that a press release has, alone, little practical impact. But I hope our choice of words gives an insight into our values.
At the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week 2015 the British Psychological Society's Presidential team has called on the government to recognise the impact of war, poverty, social divisions, inequity and the abuse of fundamental human rights on psychological health, and to do all that it can to combat these evils.
The team is made up of Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, the President of the British Psychological Society, President Elect Professor Peter Kinderman and Professor Dorothy Miell, Vice President,
Their statement reads:
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we call on the government to recognise the impact of war, poverty, social divisions, inequity and the abuse of fundamental human rights on psychological health, and to work to protect citizens’ mental health through addressing these problems.
Too many people, especially women and children, are traumatised by war and armed conflict. We must work actively for peace, and we must extend both humanitarian care and the hand of friendship to people escaping from conflict zones.
We know that psychological health and wellbeing are largely dependent on our social circumstances. Especially in this period of economic austerity, we must work collectively to create a more humane society: to reduce or eliminate poverty, especially childhood poverty, and to reduce financial and social inequality. We need to work harder to promote peace, social justice and equity, and ensure that citizens are properly fed, housed, and educated, and living in a sustainable natural ecosystem.
To promote genuine mental health and wellbeing we need to protect and promote universal human rights, as enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Because experiences of neglect, rejection and abuse are hugely important in the genesis of many problems, we need to redouble our efforts to protect children from emotional, psychological, physical or sexual abuse and neglect.
Equally, we must protect both adults and children from bullying and discrimination: whether that is racism, homophobia, or discrimination based on sexuality, gender, disability, ‘mental health’ or any other characteristic. We can all do more to combat discrimination and promote a more tolerant and accepting society.