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Chief Executive

Psychological government

29 January 2020 | by Chief Executive

Although the general election may seem like a lifetime ago, such is the fast-moving political world we live in right now, the new government is already starting to map out its domestic priorities for the coming years.

A new cohort of MPs has taken their place in Westminster, and this settling-in period provides us with a vital opportunity to show them the value and relevance of psychology to their role, right at the beginning of their parliamentary career.

The influx of new MPs is the perfect opportunity to launch our ‘psychological government’ programme. This important project is our opportunity to support policy makers to take the psychological impact of policies into account and consider how government decisions affect the way people think and feel.

To reach that point we need to engage MPs and policy makers, and show them the value of our evidence, our theories and our frameworks.

The best time to do this is when MPs first join Parliament, so our policy team has put together a briefing paper which will be sent to all new MPs, explaining the value of psychologically-informed policies and how taking the psychological impact of their work into account can improve policy making and create better outcomes for people.

We’re also looking to run a series of workshops for the new intake of MPs, introducing them to the tools needed to use psychology to make better policy.

This work builds on our psychological manifesto, released in the run-up to the election, which outlines three priorities for the new government.

These are a cross-government strategy for the youngest children in society, a focus on prevention, and action on our Senate priority around lifting people out of poverty.

These three crucial areas are ones where psychological thinking and the expertise of our members is able to have a real impact. We’ll be working to show how the psychological evidence and expertise can move the dial on these issues.

After three years of uncertainty, there is also a new devolved government in place in Northern Ireland, with the Stormont assembly thankfully now back up and running.

Professor Nichola Rooney, the chair of our Division of Clinical Psychology in Northern Ireland, has been meeting with key stakeholders including health minister Robin Swann.

Work also continues in Wales and Scotland, where we're focusing on getting the expertise of our members right to the heart of government to make an impact on both UK-wide issues, and those which are high on the agenda for devolved governments.

Psychological government is an ambitious aim, but with our networks and members engaging with policy makers throughout the four nations and influencing locally, I believe that we can achieve real progress.

When it comes to political challenges, we can't ignore the ongoing personal and political consequences which Brexit has caused for people.

It’s an issue which has polarised opinion in the UK but, now that the withdrawal agreement has been signed, we need to work out exactly what it means for psychology and for the society.

Psychology is a global science, and the collaboration and cooperation which we enjoy with international colleagues brings a diversity of perspectives which only strengthens our profession.

In a post-Brexit world, we're committed to maintaining close ties with our fellow European psychology associations.

When it comes to individuals, there's no doubt that the thousands of EU psychologists who have made the UK their home over the decades have made an invaluable contribution to UK society and we will continue to support these colleagues personally and professionally.

I’ll keep you updated on our political work throughout this year, and if you have any ideas or suggestions on how we can leverage your expertise in the current political context or support our colleagues from across the EU, please do get in touch.


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