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BPS welcomes United Nations report on inequality and mental health

25 June 2019

The British Psychological Society welcomes a new report by Dr Dainius Pūras, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on health, and its comments that tackling inequality is key to preventing mental illness in populations.

Sarb Bajwa, Chief Executive of the BPS, said:

“The findings of the Special Rapporteur support a number of the measures which we have suggested to combat mental ill health in the UK, including quick and effective interventions to support those suffering adverse childhood experiences and an improved social welfare system.

I am delighted to see a body as influential as the United Nations join the call for much more psychologically informed policies in these areas.

We recently made the psychological impact of inequality the central theme of our annual conference, and heard from leading experts in the field of psychology and other disciplines.

The clear message which I took from those two days was that tackling inequality in our society is absolutely central to preventing mental ill health, and treating those who suffer from it.

Sadly the UK currently has a higher level of income inequality than most comparable, developed countries, and it is high time that the government both acknowledged this fact and began developing evidence-based policies to deal with it.

The BPS has already lobbied for reform of the welfare system and removal of benefit sanctions for claimants with mental health difficulties, and it is a priority for us to push for the prevention of mental ill health to be placed at the centre of public policy making.

We also have a policy priority on children and young people’s mental health, voted for by our members, and a key part of our strategy on this is to highlight the importance of adverse childhood experiences on mental health. It is pleasing to see that the UN report joins us in taking this position and calls for better interventions to be designed.

Any approach focused on prevention must take into account the social determinants which affect people’s lives, and we will be raising our voice to be much louder in a bid to encourage the kinds of policies which are recommended by the Special Rapporteur.”

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