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Government and Politics Blog

All stereotypes are in the mind of the observer, but I do now think I could reliably identify the satellites and acolytes of the three main political parties in the UK.

In Brighton (the Liberal Democrats) and Birmingham (the Conservatives) it was strikingly easy to navigate the journey from railway station to conference venue – just follow the people who clearly look as if they’re heading for your target (I could find my way to the Liverpool Labour venue, of course.)

For the Liberal Democrats, casual clothes were the order of the day, matching friendly and earnest discussions about commissions of inquiry and proposals for policy forums. With eight MPs, conversations on the theme of power were rare.

For Labour, the dress code was subtly different. And the conversations, with the Corbyn leadership issues in the foreground, were all about power, or more specifically the current lack of power experienced by the official opposition party, and their obvious desire to regain office.

In Brighton, with the Conservatives, the streets were full of people usually seen around the City and boardrooms of FTSE100 companies. And, of course, the theme was – overtly and implicitly – about power. The well-dressed were there because the economy (probably legitimately) is fuelled by political decisions. The streets were well policed, for obvious reasons, and the conference was well-attended by people like me. (I met several colleagues and even, surprisingly, my own niece, who is now a lobbyist.)

Of course, when we actually meet with serving Ministers, the typical response is to recommend that we meet again in Whitehall, with civil servants present… which is what we’d do anyway. But it’s important because, as I’ve said before, the decisions made by politicians are important. Really important.

Laws and related policies profoundly affect our relationships. The divorce laws, laws on same-sex marriage, pre-nuptial agreements, child-care arrangements, pension laws, benefits regulations and rules for flexible working practices all impact on relationships, and are all matters for politicians. Relationships are at the heart of psychology, and this means that we as psychologists need to be engaged in the debate.

Politicians and government departments have very significant responsibilities in shaping education and employment practice. Most education is state-funded in the UK and therefore politicians and civil servants are responsible for the range, quality and equity of education. As psychologists, we recognize these key social determinants affecting child development, and we have an obligation to be involved in these discussion.

Employment law is also very significant, and taxation rules, rules on benefits and investment decisions by government – as well as the more fundamental health of the economy – all impact on the quality of our employment and will therefore affect our wellbeing. Work that we value, and which gives our lives value, is vital to our wellbeing, and unemployment can be disastrous for our psychological health.

Through the laws it chooses to enact, the government even affects important spiritual aspects of our lives: the role of religion in our political and cultural life, the interpretation of human rights as they apply to freedom of speech and expression.

Similarly, issues related to our arts, culture and leisure are, of course, matters for government, not least through planning and investment decisions. Crime and criminal justice matters are, of course, quintessentially matters for legislators. And, finally, of course, politicians have a key role in drawing up policies and strategies in the arena of mental health.

And all that means, despite the stereotypes, despite the fact that the parties that are not in power are, um, not in power, despite the fact that the party in power exercises that power through a complex, constitutional, civil service... it’s important that we were there.

Wed, 05/10/2016 - 12:09

 

My friend and colleague, Tor Levin Hoffgaard, President of the Norwegian Psychological Association, once contrasted the thinking styles of politicians and scientists. The scientists tend to prefer rigorous, theory-based, statistical, context-free, evidence, while politicians tend to prefer contextual, practically relevant, readily comprehensible evidence. Scientists, he suggested, tend to work to long time scales, as long s the problem demands, while politicians are dictated by the rapid electoral and news agendas. Scientists tend to communicate in measured language, using technical terms, while politicians need clear, even catchy, messages. And while scientists are, of course, swayed by the influence of funding requirements, their reputations and career advancement, at least they pride themselves on the objectivity and validity of their findings. Politicians focus on meeting the immediate (and longer term) needs of citizens, as well as the demands of their political parties and the media.  

political science I like that analysis. But then I like both science and politics. I have now attended both the Liberal Democrat and Labour Party Conferences on behalf of the Society, and I hope I can appreciate the benefit of the marriage between psychological science and politics.

While I tend towards the academic approach, the political stance has merit. It is genuinely good to value contextual, readily comprehensible evidence, presented in clear and accessible language. I see little wrong in addressing issues of practical relevance, of direct interest to the needs of citizens. And I am as impatient for rapid change as the next person.

The obvious response is to marry these perspectives, and to value and understand them both. As I listened to the speeches of politicians, it’s fair to say that some of them were merely vacuous hot air, Trumpesque promises of sun-lit uplands, fluffy bunny rabbits and effortless progress consequent upon no particular discernable policies. But I was also impressed by men and women who were passionate about improving their communities and helping their fellow citizens, who had coherent theories about what sort of change was needed, and what was required to bring that about and who were prepared to listen as well as talk. I’ve said before that psychology, because it’s about human behaviour, is the stuff of politics, and have I found that politicians tend to want to engage with the mirror of their profession – the rigorous, theory-based, statistical, evidence, gathered objectively over an appropriate time-span and reported in measured, defensible, language. Of course… I have the Conservative Party Conference still to attend…

Tue, 27/09/2016 - 13:31

This week’s blog bisects a busy week for me, with BPS business taking me to Brighton, London, Edinburgh, back to London and Llandudno, and extending from Sunday morning to Saturday afternoon.

My first appointments were at the Liberal Democrat Conference. I believe it is important for us, and indeed our colleagues in the other medical Royal Colleges, to be present at these events, even if little material work is done.

At the conference of the party in power, work is appropriately delegated to official government departments, agencies and civil servants. At this year’s Labour Conference, I confidently expect ‘leadership’ to be the dominant topic of conversation. The Liberal Democrats have only sufficient MPs to fit into two taxis….

They are opportunities for personal conversations – with friends who lead work on, for example, mental health care, dementia care, the interface between health and social care, and the role of third-sector and commercial organisations in these areas. So our presence sends the message that the BPS is interested and engaged with these key issues.

So, on Sunday and Monday I had a number of such one-to-one conversations, and participated in roundtable discussions (skilfully organised by the BPS staff), ensuring that the BPS voice is heard in these circles.

In particular, I represented the BPS at two key roundtable discussions.

One was on the fall-out from Brexit, where the BPS has important concerns, shared with many professional and academic colleagues, on EU funding of research, EU students at our universities, the transferability of qualifications and professional competencies on the staffing of the NHS and social care, where a large proportion of our colleagues are EU nationals, and potentially subject to threats to their residency status).

The second was on mental health policy, where the BPS has very clear interests in promoting a psycho-social perspective, the value of psychologists themselves, the benefits of a focus on prevention as well as psychological interventions for identified problems, and the more general health benefits of a consideration of psychological aspects of care.

More detailed discussions will be had in other settings, including in all-party parliamentary groups, where we will, for example, be launching our new dementia report.

Members may also take the opportunity to participate in a couple of interesting ‘commissions’ launched at the Lib Dem Conference. Nick Clegg is leading on a new commission with the Social Market Foundation on equity in education (something I imagine will appeal to BPS members) and Norman Lamb announced a cross-party review of the future structure and funding of health and social care, with a particular focus on integration of services.

I’m only halfway through my week, so thus far I’ve had meetings of our Presidential taskforce on the training of applied psychologists in statutory settings.

This was a really positive meeting which has the potential to help us develop powerful tools for lobbying for appropriate respect for the services and skills offered by applied psychologists, a coherent model of professional training which will allow us to negotiate confidently with funders and commissioners, and the potential to grow the membership of the family of psychology and indeed the BPS itself.

We have also been talking with colleagues from NHS England about improving our recognition and capacity to hold meaningful discussions within NHS England and related bodies.

Right now… I’m off to Edinburgh, to open a conference tomorrow on how psychology can respond to the challenge of compassion in the NHS, especially highlighted by a number of recent enquiries into failings in health and social care.

That evening, I’ll be travelling back down to London for the free annual joint lecture with the British Academy and the BPS exploring the effects of stress on the brain.

On all these events. plus possible televised discussion on psychological wellbeing and mental health, and then the political fun and games at the Labour Party Conference, I’ll hope to offer more in next week’s blog.

Wed, 21/09/2016 - 16:43

 

The current edition of Private Eye (publication date 4th August 2016) outlines concerns about the regulation of psychologists. In particular, the journalists comment that; “providing psychologists don’t use one of the … so-called protected titles … any can offer their services without the need to be registered and regulated by the UK’s watchdog the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Even if serious concerns or complaints are raised about them, they remain immune from investigation because they’re not registered”.

Many BPS members have raised this issue with me and my predecessors. So what’s the solution?

One option might be to press for regulation of the title 'psychologist'. That may well close the loophole to an extent, but it’s far from perfect. Protection of the public from charlatans is vital, but it may be seen as disproportionate to require all who call themselves psychologists to pay to register with HCPC. Our academic colleagues, who do not offer services to the public in that sense, may find that onerous. That solution would require legislative change and wouldn’t do anything to bring people legitimately using titles such as ‘psychotherapist’ or ‘cognitive therapist’ into the regulatory fold (and thereby help protect the public). The unscrupulous would merely avoid that new regulated title and would continue to mislead the public with new variations on the theme.

But we probably don't need that solution, as I believe the HCPC already has more power to act.

Under Article 39(1) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, it is a criminal offence for a person, with intent to deceive (whether clearly or by implication), to: – claim that they are on the HCPC Register; – use a title protected by the Order to which they are not entitled; or – claim falsely that they have qualifications in a relevant profession. It is clear to me that a person who uses a title such as 'consultant psychologist' is by implication claiming qualifications or professional status that they do not possess. 

In other words, we do seem to have the legal powers to act, but seldom do. Perhaps a better question, then, would be to ask why HCPC don’t avail themselves more often of this route. It’s at least possible that we, as psychologists, are complicit  assuming that there’s a legal loophole and not complaining. 

At the same time, we need to get our house in order. Those of us who are legitimately qualified and experienced professionals who provide a service to the public but feel it is acceptable not to be registered because they don’t use a protected title should consider this as a call to action to reflect on their own accountability. The Society is improving its professional practice guidelines and could use them in collaboration with HCPC to outline more clearly the standards of professional behaviour that we value.

It’s possible that we also need more explicit legislation to clarify the language and allow prosecution more easily. This could also bring professions such as psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapists under the regulatory remit. The Government is beginning the process of consultation to consider major reforms that would unify the regulatory Councils. The aim is to improve the legislative approach to address these ‘regulated functions’ rather than merely ‘regulated title’ issues. We have quite a lot to benefit from such changes. We need to close loopholes, and we can learn from the other regulatory Councils. For example, the title ‘doctor’ is not a protected title (that is, instead, ‘registered medical practitioner’) and yet the public is relatively well protected from charlatans pretending “by implication” to be doctors in the lay-person’s meaning of the word. Having a PhD obviously wouldn’t protect me, for instance.

We should engage closely in the imminent consultation, and press for both a more intelligent approach to the regulation of our profession and sister professions, as well as for a closure of the ‘implied competence’ loophole, if necessary. It would be timely to look to improving investigatory processes, and to look at a more mature relationship between the BPS (which has a duty to promote the profession) and HCPC (with a more specific remit to protect the public) as they work together in the public interest. There is a lot to be gained from a unified approach to regulation in health and social care, and I believe that it would be valuable to extend statutory regulation to all the psychotherapeutic professions. However, in the meantime I think that there is a lot that the BPS and its members can do to ensure that those legitimately offering a service to the public ensure that they are registered, regulated and accountable, that they report cases where people appear to be committing offences by implied possession of qualifications they do not possess, and pressing HCPC to pursue prosecution using means that appear to be available by seldom used. 

 

 

Wed, 03/08/2016 - 14:53


I thought, last week, that the political world could not get any more turbulent. But events in the South of France, in the USA, in Turkey, and even here in the UK, proved me wrong.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the importance of leaders in civic society - including the British Psychological Society - stepping forwards in the confusion and, frankly, vacuum of detailed policy-making post Brexit. We’ve previously spoken out on the dangers of xenophobic and hate-filled speech and on the psychological factors associated with flawed political decision-making.

All these issues seem to grow in importance each week. Of course, psychology as a discipline and a profession overlap with others. Sociologists, anthropologists and ethnographers all study society as much as do psychologists. Historians, especially political and military historians, have perspectives that overlap with, inform and are informed by, psychology.

Psephologists and political geographers analyse the human factors associated with political decision-making and survey the views of the voting public. And, of course, since political decisions impact upon all of us in our professional activity, all professions have legitimate interests.

So it’s important to remember that the psychological perspective should accompany other, equally valid, perspectives. We are, as has been said before, stronger together. And it is important that professions and disciplines act in unity. We aren’t the only professional and academic body active in this area - but we are, as you would expect, active.

I am delighted that the BPS is central to discussions by the Academy of Social Sciences (representing, of course, the social sciences) and Science Council (representing the more physical sciences) in their discussions about UK science and professional activity post Brexit. I’m also delighted to have been a co-signatory to an open letter to the new UK prime minister, asking her to confirm the previous government’s commitment to mental health and to ‘parity of esteem’ in the provision of services.

This reshuffle has not produced the dedicated cabinet minister for mental health that we had been calling for, but the release of the NHS ‘Implementing the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health’ plan just a few days into the new cabinet suggests it is still high on the agenda.

We’ve got a whole new cast of political characters to work with and we will be working hard over the coming months to introduce our Society to them and explain the value that psychology can bring to their policies and to the way they make their decisions.

Wed, 20/07/2016 - 12:05

The British Psychological Society is actively engaged in several important policy issues, but two are particularly contentious. They are technically complex and they are personally challenging.

A recent government consultation asked how to implement the replacement of bursaries for nursing and other healthcare students with an expanded system of loans. This change raises complex issues for our discipline.

Our response stressed that “the proposed reform to healthcare education funding falls short of the long-term holistic workforce strategy necessary to achieve the government’s goal of delivering high quality integrated physical and mental health care.”

Given that clinical psychology trainees receive both fees and salaries from Health Education England, any move towards loans as opposed to bursaries would constitute a major threat to our profession. Thus we stated clearly that this support “is vital and must continue”. But this support does not cover all applied psychology, and, as we said in our response “is not sufficient to deliver the progress needed to achieve the government’s goal of significantly improving the psychological health and wellbeing of the population.”

We need to enter into substantive discussions with the Department of Health and Health Education England about the future shape of our professional training. We know that our profession is under review. There are many options – from the discussions held under the New Ways of Working programme, suggestions I have previously made and the opportunities offered by the existing Clinical Scientists route.

One thing that psychologists are good at – trained in – is grappling with difficult issues and forging coherent consensus. In this response we expressed a clear message on behalf of the whole profession that takes us forward with authority. But on a personal level, this was a difficult issue. It was challenging to balance the well-argued concerns of colleagues over the commissioning of clinical psychology training with the opportunity for other applied Divisions to boost the psychological workforce and begin to address structural inequity if they were at least able to access loans to meet their training costs.

One of the reasons I love my profession is that we didn’t just put our head in the sands. We took the bull by the horns, and developed a coherent and authoritative position, which we will develop further in the coming months. Armed with this, we are ready to sit down at the table and try to influence the course of events.

I had to confront a second personal and professional dilemma this past week as on Friday I met with colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions. Many of my friends have aired grave concerns about DWP policies, arguing that they inappropriately ‘psychologise’ unemployment and locate the problem within the unemployed person.

The BPS and other organisations have also raised concerns that the DWP considers employment as a clinical outcome, and that the underpinning rationale for these policies was not improving health, but for ideological purposes. We are concerned that people would be coerced into therapy or face sanctions on their unemployment benefit payments if they refused consent.

We continue to scrutinise these policies and insist on the appropriate, ethical, use of psychological theory at all times. The British Psychological Society has argued that staff must not be involved in coercion and must maintain their professional independence as therapists. Claimants’ rights to autonomy and freely-given consent (to, for instance, participation in research trials or therapy) are non-negotiable.

Moreover, employment is not a universally positive outcome for everybody. There must be a clear commitment to appropriate work that includes long-term tailored support or there is a real risk of jeopardising recovery or worsening of mental health problems. Personally I’d go further and argue that employment should only be an outcome if that’s what the client wants.

I have my own opinions, which are guided by my understanding of psychological science, by my professional training and by my values, and which I know I share with my colleagues. Last year, I spoke out about the misuse of such policies but a principled stance is not necessarily the same as simple opposition.

The most important discussions are not easy. They aren't conceptually easy and they aren’t emotionally easy. But they are necessary - we have an obligation to engage and discuss such contentious and difficult issues, not avoid them.

Wed, 13/07/2016 - 13:51


The Chilcot Report into the decision to go to war in Iraq has highlighted the irrationality and psychological vulnerability of our leaders, and how disastrous the consequences can be.

As the fall-out from the EU Referendum left us painfully aware, there are dangers in making decisions under conditions of high emotion, poor quality information and great uncertainty. Coming so soon after Brexit, we are even more acutely aware of the limitations of our politicians.

Sadly, we have become to expect that politicians will act in their own best interests, avoid direct answers and backtrack on their promises. But I had hoped senior civil servants, military commanders and, crucially, the shadowy chiefs of our intelligence services would take the most rational approach to the process of decision-making.

But the Chilcot Report shows that decisions – life-and–death, world-changing decisions – fell prey the same disastrous cognitive biases to which we are all prone. Psychologists have always known that human beings are irrational. The philosopher and proto-scientist, Roger Bacon suggested in 1266 that a principal source of error was our “false conceit of our own wisdom”.

We find it difficult to retain more than a few relevant facts so use rules of thumb - heuristic reasoning - rather than cool logic. Our decisions are distorted by emotions, by the most memorable information, by irrelevancies and by other people. We seek out information that confirms rather than challenges our assumptions. And we seek the company of people who agree with us.

Once a decision has been made, we naturally feel terrible at the thought that we may have made mistakes. The phenomenon of ‘cognitive dissonance’ – and the psychological discomfort it causes - means that we sometimes try to change the facts to make ourselves feel better. Chilcot said Tony Blair had presented intelligence about Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction “with a certainty that was not justified”.

We are cooperative animals. Cooperation has been and remains crucial for our survival. But the nature of human groups means that we form alliances and support our friends in ways that are not always in the best interests of anyone. Political alliances may be of short-term benefit of politicians, but may not always serve the interests of citizens.

But what of irrationality, what of an understanding of flawed human psychology, in this mess? These flaws in human reasoning and in our human relationships all applied in the run-up to the fatal decision on Iraq. Individuals will be blamed, but it’s important that we also understand that psychological biases were at play and to make the necessary changes to legal, constitutional and political processes to improve the quality of decision making and prevent future mistakes.

As with the EU referendum, we should let the lawyers, politicians and civil servants do their jobs. We should actively inform and advise leaders of civil society as they sort out the mess in which we find ourselves. We can offer advice as to how we choose our leaders, form our groups and make our decisions. Above all, we need to choose and select people free, as much as possible, from the conceit of false wisdom.

Wed, 06/07/2016 - 14:00

Once again, in the horrific killing of MP Jo Cox, we’ve seen violent tragedy strike at honourable and charitable people. Our hearts go out to Jo’s husband Brendan and their children.

As Brendan has said, we should “work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.”

We all share, I’m sure, Brendan’s views: “She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn't have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous”. As citizens as much as psychologists, we need to review and consider how we work together to combat such hate.

Once again, we do not know the complex motives and reasons for the attack on Jo, just as we do not fully understand the background – political and psychological – of the homophobic attack in Orlando, the Germanwings tragedy or the neo-Nazi violence of Anders Breivik.

But in each case we see considerations of psychological issues – in each case there is a fierce debate as to whether we should locate responsibility within the individual or, alternatively, look to wider, societal, causes.

We need to understand the full background to such tragedies, and that includes the psychological of the perpetrators. But, in that examination, we must ensure that we cast our investigation appropriately broadly; looking not only at the psychology of the individual, and the experiences and motivation of someone who can convince themselves that to do such an act is acceptable and justified, but also the psychology of wider society - the hate and prejudice, misunderstanding and warped political ideology that also must be recognised as contributors to this, and similar, atrocities.

As I have read and watched coverage of this issue, I have been slightly concerned to detect a binary distinction – between ‘mentally ill’ on the one hand and, alternatively and in contrast, ‘politically motivated’ on the other. I do not recognise such a clear distinction.

Sad and vulnerable, lonely and confused, angry and alienated people are swayed by hate-filled rhetoric that blames their difficulties on other, different, people and offers them a distorted picture of society. Indeed, it seems pretty clear that sad, lonely, confused individuals are more, not less, susceptible to such messages.

This might make the picture more complex than a typical tabloid leader column, but it does, nevertheless lead to clear conclusions. It is vital and urgent that we put a stop to xenophobic, hate-fuelled, divisive and violent rhetoric in political and public life.

Find out more about my plans for this week.

Wed, 22/06/2016 - 10:47

We are always actively seeking members’ input to a great number of live consultations on policy issues related to psychology. Right now, two are particularly worthy of mention.

 In April, following the comprehensive spending review and significant further pressure on public spending in health and social care, the UK government announced that: “From 1 August 2017, new nursing, midwifery and allied health students will no longer receive NHS bursaries. Instead, they will have access to the same student loans system as other students.” That means  nursing and other healthcare students will soon be required to take out loans to fund their training.

The Department of Health has launched a consultation on how to implement this change and we are seeking our members’ views on how to respond. We are deeply concerned about the possible impact on these students, and therefore on the ability of the health and social care systems to deliver the services upon which we all rely.

Although student loans are now the norm in England and Wales, this is not the case across the UK as a whole. I remain committed to the idea that free, universal, education is an ideal of any civilised society. More importantly, for these particular students, the prospect of tens of thousands of pounds of additional debt at the end of training will have a negative impact on the future of these professionals and the patients in their care.

Our response is likely to stress the unwelcome nature of these changes for the overall delivery of psychological health care. Providing the best standards of care requires many different types of healthcare professionals working together in multi-disciplinary teams – any negative impact to one part of the system will have a knock on effect.

Currently, training for Clinical Psychology and some other mental health professions (including psychological therapists in the IAPT programme and child psychotherapists) that are funded indirectly by Health Education England are unaffected.

We are cautiously reassured that psychologists have been spared from the effects of these reforms for now. This move reflects the recognition that psychologists in training deliver invaluable services to the NHS… much like our junior doctor colleagues.

At the same time, a different arm of the political octopus – the House of Commons public accounts committee (not, technically, an arm of Government, but holding government to account) – has announced a call for evidence on the topic of ‘improving access to mental health services’.

The public accounts committee noted various positive steps taken (or announced) in this area: clear commitments from the prime minister and the Department of Health to improve mental health services, for ‘parity of esteem’ between physical and mental health, and, therefore clear access and waiting time standards.

The committee has raised concerns, following a rather sceptical report by the National Audit Office that said the cost of improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT), early intervention in psychosis and liaison psychiatry services could be 25 per cent higher than clinical commissioning groups have spent in the past and that their budgets may not stretch.

The British Psychological Society will be making a written submission to the Committee. Our view is likely to be that it is not only welcome but necessary, to follow through with these ‘Parity of Esteem’ commitments. People have a right to expect the NHS to provide NICE-recommended care whether in the field of physical or mental healthcare.

Investment in health and social care is not only a moral imperative and necessary for a well-functioning society, but it also represents value for money. Psychological health, particularly preventative and early intervention services, represents a clear net saving to the public purse in the avoidance of higher, future, costs.

The BPS has a stronger influence if we respond in one unified voice. If you wish to add to our discussions please contribute by emailing the Society consultations address or contact me directly. 

Find out more about my plans for next week.

Wed, 01/06/2016 - 15:07

I had the great pleasure to be in York on Saturday, marching in support of colleagues calling for proper investment in mental health services in the city. It is ridiculous, in one of the wealthiest nations on earth, to be fighting for the most basic of social services. But the march and rally were great, and I am heartened by several elements of the day. 

The local people, and media, were welcoming and positive and there was strong support from local and national politicians. I was delighted to be shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues from Psychologists Against Austerity and sharing the speakers’ platform with the local MP Rachel Maskell and Len McClusky from Unite.

Having been a clinical psychologist for 25 years, I was delighted to hear the message that psychological health is a matter for everyone -  one-in-one, not ‘one-in-four’ - and that our psychological health (and therefore mental health services) is intimately linked to social circumstances and the economic, political and material health of civic society. That message needs to be repeated and clarified - hence my visit to Channel 4 on Tuesday, to attend a meeting discussing media portrayals of mental health problems – but I think it’s getting across. I was delighted, for example, that Alistair Campbell has started talking about mental health as an issue that touches ‘one in one’, not just ‘one in four’ of us. For me, this is a welcome recognition of our shared humanity and common psychology.

Otherwise, issues around work and psychology have dominated my email inbox and Twitter account this week. We’ve seen reports of psychologists themselves issuing ‘zero-hours contracts’, and unpaid intern posts for people wanting to enter professional psychology careers. Is this a growing trend that BPS Members and other readers of the blog would like to share their views on?

We’ve also seen increasing discussion of the impact of Work Capability Assessments, the DWP’s in-work progression trial and sanctions in our benefits system. We’ve seen sexism in the workplace and we’ve seen further discussion of the importance of maintaining the psychological health of workers in the NHS.

So… two questions (for the comments section below, perhaps):

  1. What are readers’ views on psychologists issuing zero-hours contracts or contracts for unpaid interns?
  2. Is the time right for a British Psychological Society Presidential Taskforce on ‘Work and Psychology’?

Find out more about my plans for next week.

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 11:21

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