Presidential Blog

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

I'll start today with the fact that this may well be one of the last presidential blogs in the current format.

Because, after investing a significant amount of money, effort, and time, the British Psychological Society will soon start to roll out a brand new website.

The new website will be much more engaging and accessible, and is particularly designed to help members of the public to access the work of the society.

It has been designed to help us better demonstrate the contributions of our members in various ways … including a new President’s blog.

We have a very good role model in the form of the Swedish Psychological Association. Their website is well known amongst the Swedish general public, who regularly use the site to find information about psychology and psychologists. They’ve shown that there is a real desire for this type of information.

We, of course, have a similarly ambitious goal to provide this service in the UK and to be the first port and call and the number one showcase for psychology. We will continually develop the Society’s internet presence across to demonstrate our commitment to this goals.

On that point, it’s worth noting the range of material already accessible - on our main site, on the Research Digest, on The Psychologist and on our rather impressive YouTube channel.

We have a great deal to offer, including sharing the sometimes unsung successes of our Boards and member networks.

And there’s more good news today in that the government has just announced has announced £816m of funding for health research over the next five years.

Of that amount £68m will be for mental health research, over £45m will go on dementia research and there will also be investment in research on cancer, obesity, health technology and many other areas of interest to psychology.

It’s a substantial investment and one that we welcome whole heartedly, but we must work to ensure that the focus on biomedical research is not at the expense of further research focused on the psychosocial aspects of mental health conditions and conditions which have a psychological impact.

Our Research Board will be leading our efforts to ensure that a substantial amount of this investment is spent on research into prevention and in finding and implementing the psychological and psychosocial interventions that really work.

And, finally, we’re looking forwards to the UK political party conference season, with a BPS presence at the three major party events.

As well as talking about opportunities from this new research investment, the subjects we shall be raising are: the psychology of political and strategic decision-making, our call for action on neurodisability in the offender population, dementia and our forthcoming report on the psychology of the condition, and psychology and the benefits system.

As we say:

"Psychology matters. The subject matter of politics - the well-being of citizens, security, economic prosperity, employment, relationships, criminal justice, education and healthcare - is fundamentally dependent on an understanding of how human beings think, feel, relate to one another, make sense of the world and make decisions about the things that matter.

"Political decisions have life and death consequences - when our economy suffers, people suffer, and when politicians lead us into conflict, the consequences are daunting. So it’s right that psychologists support and advise our politicians in the important job they do on our behalf."

Wed, 14/09/2016 - 17:15

A woman high jumper

The Paralympics begin today. And I loved an article by John Head, senior lecturer in prosthetics and biomechanics at the University of Salford, celebrating the fact that

achievements of the Paralympians, alongside societal shifts towards more inclusivity and the celebration of diversity has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people living with disability.

John argues that

changes in the perception of disability in society has led many people with limb absence to feel empowered to embrace their physical status, rather than hide it from public view – showcasing their prostheses with colourful and dynamic components.

This celebration of what it means to be human – not just a member of a patrician elite able to pass the microscopic scrutiny of the Spartan Committee for the Exposure of Inadequates – resonates with me and I believe with the work of my colleagues. John’s closing exclamation – “Here’s to the super-humans” – is lovely.

But we have a lot of work still to do. Today also saw the publication of a new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission that children with disabilities are almost twice as likely to be victims of crime as their siblings and class-mates. The Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, David Isaac, explicitly challenged our assumptions about the legacy of the London Paralympic Games, and perhaps challenged John Head’s optimism: “These findings are a wake-up call that there is still much more that needs to change. We cannot hope to create a more inclusive society for future generations while disabled children continue to live in a climate of fear of victimisation.”

I’m proud that we, as psychologists, are playing our part in celebrating our wonderful human diversity. Staying in the field of sport, Professor Jan Burns. In 2015, Jan was awarded an MBE for her work with people with intellectual disabilities, and she joined the Board of Special Olympics earlier this year. 

Professor Celia Kitzinger’s Lifetime Achievement Award was a celebration of her work as a campaigner for social justice, informed by her research.

Across the discipline of psychology, my colleagues are working to challenge prejudice and discrimination, and to break down barriers between people.

In the words of the fantastic ‘OnlyUs’ campaign;

When we separate ourselves and imagine humanity divided … we allow stigma, prejudice and exclusion to ruin potentially good and creative lives.

As John Head points out, the Paralympics and the Special Olympics both allow us to celebrate the achievements of people overcoming obstacles that I would have found daunting.

Wed, 07/09/2016 - 14:13


I have to confess a personal interest. In a few days time, my son, like many thousands of others, will be going to university. Distressingly, this means beginning what may well be a lifetime of debt. The psychological consequences are potentially serious.

A new survey of young people aged 18 to 24 suggests a large proportion experience significant concerns about money. In the survey the average debt was nearly £3000, before commitments such as student loans or mortgages were added. The average student loan balance is £25,505.

It is unsurprising that many of the young people surveyed felt that their debts were a "heavy burden". It seems, from the available data, that student debt has not deterred young people from going to university, but it may well make them anxious during and after their studies.

It’s good to see young people making their way in life, and it’s very good to go to university. But the consequences of such debt are worrying.

Debts can affect our mental health in many ways. Practically, when we do not have enough money to pay for all the things that are essential, like food, rent, bills, travel etc., our lives can become very difficult. When we cannot make the minimum repayments on the debts themselves, things become more difficult still.

As the young people in this survey reported, debt can be a persistent source of anxiety. It can also be a source of shame and regret. If we are in financial difficulties, we may feel ashamed and not want to talk to others about it.

To my way of thinking, these are the ‘normal’ rather than ‘abnormal’ psychological consequences of living with financial uncertainty. If I were pressed, I’d suggest that the ‘abnormality’ lies in our present economic, social and political system, rather than in the minds of young people.

My son is fortunate. Not (despite his own beliefs) because he has inalienable personal gifts, but because I have had a steady job for 28 years, and I can act as a guarantor (and benefactor).

Not all of us are so lucky. Even in a rich and developed nation – perhaps particularly in a rich and developed nation – such things as personal debt and the inequity between neighbours can be tough.

That is why, in my opinion, a commitment to social justice should go hand in hand with the application of psychological science.

Wed, 31/08/2016 - 12:14



As I’m technically on holiday, I’m cheating very slightly this week, with an edited snippet from my book.

I commute to work by car and unfortunately drive for quite long distances on motorways. So my journey to work (like, I suppose, everything else in life) depends on the operation of the laws of physics.

When it rains, we often see collisions and other accidental tragedies; the roads are slippery, it is harder to see. When people have accidents, the police investigate the probable or likely cause of the incident for legal and insurance purposes. Their analysis includes human factors, but also includes complex physics.

To work out why a tragedy has occurred, the investigators will calculate things like the velocity of the vehicles involved, coefficients of friction between rubber and tarmac, reaction times calculated using equations of acceleration and deceleration, the role of centrifugal forces, tyre pressures and ‘footprint’, the role of aquaplaning, lift, etc.

They will measure elements of the physical world; the weight of the vehicles, radius of turns, the slope of ascents or descents, whether the conditions were wet or dry, the temperature, tyre pressures, the condition of brakes and the nature of the road surface.

All these aspects of physics are important; they explain why accidents happen. But road traffic investigators don’t use a special branch of physics called ‘abnormal physics’. We don’t expect scientists to apply one special branch of physics to car crashes and differentiate this from the laws of physics that apply to ‘normal life’.

There is not an ‘abnormal coefficient of friction’ that leads to car crashes and a ‘normal coefficient of friction’ that keeps us safe. Instead, and wisely, we recognise that it is important to understand the universal laws of physics – such as friction – and then use that understanding to help design safer roads and to drive more safely as individuals.

The laws of psychology are similarly universal. Psychological principles apply to health and wellbeing and to distress and problems. There simply isn’t an ‘abnormal psychology’ that applies to distress or explains ‘illnesses’ and a different ‘normal psychology’ that applies to everything else. There is just psychology.

Everybody makes sense of their world, and does so on the basis of the experiences that they have and the learning that occurs over their lifetime. We all use the same basic processes to understand the world, even if we come to very different conclusions.

The patterns and contingencies of reinforcement – rewards and punishments – shape us all: the basic psychology of behavioural learning is universal. We all learn to repeat those things that are reinforcing, and we all withdraw from things that cause us pain.

We all construct more or less useful frameworks for understanding the world, and we all use those frameworks to predict the future and guide our actions. We’re all using the same processes of learning and understanding, and those processes have similar effects on our behaviour and emotions.

However, because no one is exactly the same as anyone else, or has exactly the same experiences, we all make sense of the world in slightly different ways, with different consequences. But that’s entirely different from suggesting that there is some kind of ‘abnormal psychology’.

Instead, because applied psychologists use their understanding of psychology to solve real problems in the world, we could talk about clinical or educational or forensic psychology - if we must. Or about the psychology of psychological wellbeing, or even ‘mental health’ or offending, or parenting… just say what we mean without insulting people.

But not, in my opinion ‘abnormal psychology’. I’m afraid I just don’t think there is such a thing as ‘abnormal psychology’.

Wed, 24/08/2016 - 10:44



We have inherited a great deal from early medieval scholars, including the way we refer to the work of other scientists in our writing. The hegemony of privileged men crediting the work of other privileged men started in the academies and cloisters – “secundum quod Averroes dicit...” or “as Averroes* said…”  – but we can see the echoes today, and not only in standard APA citation systems.

Why does this matter? Well, just possibly, this is both the origins and the visible legacy of our tendency for power and influence within academic and professional circles to bounce between members of friendship circles.

White, Oxbridge-educated, heterosexual, men tend to make reference to the work of their friends – other White, Oxbridge-educated, heterosexual, males. We cite our friends (or, too often, ourselves).

One of the achievements of which I’m most proud, from my time in a leadership position at the University of Liverpool, was helping secure an Athena Swan Silver Award, recognising our commitment to equity and opportunity and specifically in supporting and advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths, and medicine in higher education and research. Although women frequently lead team science, their contribution is often erased.

As with many areas of academic life, psychology cannot claim to be perfect here. I’m a heterosexual, White, Oxbridge-educated, UK-born male professor, President of a Society with a much more diverse membership.

The statistics – in academia and in practitioner experiences – is that it is hugely more difficult for my female colleagues (constituting the majority of the profession and discipline) to progress. Equally, we are less than perfect in promoting colleagues from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

I don’t think our legacy from medieval scholarship is the only reason for this unfortunate state of affairs… but it’s a useful focus for me to introduce the issues.

We don't have to carry on doing things as they’ve always been done. I love medieval history, but sometimes its good to move forward. We could cite scientific advances in other ways. My Vice Chancellor would probably be pleased if we switched to crediting the institution supporting the research, but we could also cite the funder.

More to the point, in the era of doi’s and digital metadata, we may soon see significant reform of the systems of scientific citation. I love international conferences, but maybe that’s because I enjoy consolidating my (potentially biased) network of collaborators.

We could think about organising conferences differently. The SciFoo conference I recently attended in California was organised on a completely different basis to conventional academic conferences, for example, and we probably benefited from it.

Traditionally, academics have avoided speaking to the mass media and the general public, and I, for one, would welcome more inclusive dissemination of our research.

Perhaps we could do more to reward scientific collaboration as well as individual scientific success. More widely… we need to ensure that we are fully prepared to challenge received practices and make radical changes to enable greater equity and equality of opportunity.

 

* This is a quote from Roger Bacon’s Opus Majus, where he cited the work of Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rushd and Latinised his Islamic Andalusian name to ‘Averroes’.

Wed, 17/08/2016 - 15:04

 

Promoting “the advancement and diffusion of a knowledge of psychology pure and applied” and “the efficiency and usefulness of members” are core to the charitable aims of the Society. Members expect the Society to represent their views and defend their profession. And that means, in part, discussing the distinctive contribution of psychology and psychologists.

This is an undeniably complex topic – we celebrate the values, knowledge and skills that we share, and yet we also celebrate and promote our distinctive contribution. This overlap between generic and distinctive competencies is not unique to psychology (medical practitioners, for example, have much in common but also defend their vital specialist competencies). There is considerable overlap between the Society’s Divisions and that overlap is asymmetrical. There is a complex, asymmetrical mosaic of shared and distinctive competencies and the individual career paths of practitioner psychologists make this even more complex.

In my view, our professional identity – and indeed greater opportunity - is best served with greater clarity of the different domains of specialism within our wonderful and diverse profession. As I suggested in my blog post last week, it has implications for the professional regulation of applied psychologists  as well as for training 

In regulatory terms, it is important to recognise the generic skills and values of all healthcare professionals, of all psychologists, but also those specific standards of proficiency that mean it would put the public at risk if any of us claimed to be competent in areas in which we have no specialist skills. I have been clear that we should not permit colleagues to claim, by implication, skills that they do not possess. 

In my opinion we could do more to recognise the shared competencies of all applied psychologists, and benefit from greater unification of the profession. But of course, the distinctions between the different branches of psychology are meaningful. I do not have all the competencies possessed by colleagues in different branches of psychology (indeed I do not have specialist competencies possessed by some other clinical psychologists, for instance skills in working with children and families), and it would be inappropriate for me to claim that. We need to be judicious in when we emphasise those distinctions, and do so when it benefits the public, but only when justified. 

As I’ve said in other blog posts if you possess the relevant qualifications and offer a service to the public, you should register with HCPC. If you don't possess such qualifications, don't imply that you have. Jobs should be planned, and then advertised and recruited to, on the basis of competencies, from which any use of adjectival title should follow. If psychologists from several Divisions could fulfill the requirements of a particular post, then it's wise to maximize your chances of successful recruitment, and recruit accordingly. baby boy eating cake

We launched a Presidential Task Force to investigate and make recommendations in this area. I encourage members to debate this issue, including with other colleagues in your relevant Division, and to communicate with me directly. We will be looking at examples of best practice - including such things as innovative curricula for the training of psychologists, novel approaches to supervised practice and clinical placements, examples of job descriptions and recruitment advertisements - as well as listening to members’ views on Society policy in the areas of training and regulation. As the Presidential Taskforce begins its work (and we are having our first meeting this week), we will explore how we can encourage greater visibility of the “efficiency and usefulness” of members and promote the competencies of our various branches of psychology. 

Sometimes common sense – rather than ideological polemic – is a good guide to working things out. We value our distinctive competencies, and the public benefit from clarity about what skills we each do or don't possess. These are all matters for the new Presidential Taskforce to address. But we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t both claim distinctive competencies are important on the one hand, and dismiss their relevance on the other.  

 

Wed, 10/08/2016 - 12:10

 

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

Yohohama skyline

I have been travelling a lot over the past week, representing the British Psychological Society at ‘scifoo’ in California and at the International Congress of Psychology (ICP2016) in Yokohama. The lurking plausibility of a Donald Trump Presidency, perplexity over the Brexit result have been common talking points. Our place as psychologists in an international network of scientist and practitioners is hugely important, but needs some nurturing and care… especially now.

Our international colleagues see UK psychology as world leading, especially in fields that require critical or idiosyncratic (or even iconoclastic) thinking. Major worldwide trends in psychology have leading thinkers from UK universities and our admired health and social care system. We need to be continually mindful of our position in major international discussions.

On the one hand, many of our international colleagues are on the cusp of overtaking us in terms of both ideas and delivery. I have liaised closely with Norwegian colleagues over the past few years on conceptual psychosocial models of mental health care.

Now we see an unashamed psychosocial focus in Norway, with a recent ministerial recommendation for universal provision of medication-free services. Norway is approaching a ratio of 1 clinical psychologist for every 500 members of the public; a ratio that would equate to 120,000 clinical psychologists in the UK. While I would proudly suggest that UK psychologists are offering world-leading ideas, some of our international colleagues have leapfrogged us.

On the other hand, some of the ideas that are common currency in the UK are rather unknown elsewhere. My views on psychiatric diagnosis and the nature of ‘disorder’ and psychological distress may not be universally accepted, but these debates are vibrant and active in the UK.

We have a number of BPS documents – on psychotic experiences and on the contested nature of diagnosis – and are having active discussions, not only within the BPS, but in such bodies as the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry, the Critical Psychiatry Network and Mental Health Europe – Sante Mentale Europe.

We’re not at risk of being leapfrogged, but international colleagues seem to be unaware of these discussions, which is just as alarming.

Scifoo is a meeting of leading scientists, largely in the physical sciences. Here, the disputed notion of biomedical psychiatric illness was very positively received, but seemed entirely new and different.

Even at the purely psychological ICP2016, the idea that we need radically different approaches appeared difficult to integrate into colleagues’ views of the core purpose of their profession and discipline. The limitations of traditional psychiatric diagnoses, and the impact of such medicalised language on people’s understanding of the fundamental nature of their problems seemed new to many colleagues.

We need to be nimble and present to maintain our position in international debate. As individual academics and practitioners, we have a responsibility to speak with colleagues across the world. After the Brexit vote, that responsibility is particularly acute.

As President of the BPS, I have a particular responsibility to ensure that our links with the international scientific and professional communities are maintained. Our international profile is good  but it is not guaranteed. The effort involved in maintaining our international links is definitely worth it.

Wed, 27/07/2016 - 11:21


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

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