Health services tend to focus on treatment – that is, on supporting people who have already developed mental and/or physical health problems to live well and recover.
Taking a public health approach means trying to prevent such problems from developing in the first place.
Preventative activities take place across population groups, across a range of clinical, community, business, industry and policy settings, and in collaboration with many different professionals and stakeholders.
They can take many forms, such as policy work to reduce housing inequalities, community interventions aiming to increase children’s access to play events, school-based interventions to reduce exam stress, workplace interventions that improve working conditions, and campaigns to access to sports facilities and green spaces.
The DCP has established a Prevention and Public Health (PHP) Subcommittee to promote awareness of, and innovation and practice in, preventative work both within the profession of clinical psychology and in the wider mental health community.
The PHP subcommittee first met in late March 2020, and identified a number of initial work streams.
Firstly, there is a need to survey preventative and public health activities currently undertaken by clinical psychologists in the UK, across a range of clinical, community and policy settings.
Secondly, and in tandem, is exploration of the existing literature on public health and prevention, to understand how psychological factors and perspectives are currently considered.
Thirdly, the group is working to forge links with other practitioner psychology groups within and outside the BPS, and hopes to work with the clinical psychology courses to consider how public health and prevention is embedded into professional training and associated competency frameworks.