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World Mental Health Day: Human rights are key to mental health

10 October 2016

The European Federation of Professional Psychologists’ Associations is currently holding an expert meeting on human rights education for psychologists, with the eventual aim of seeing psychology become a profession based in human rights and positioned alongside other relevant disciplines, particularly international law.

Professor Peter Kinderman is one of a number of British psychologists attending the meeting, and has used it as an opportunity to comment on the importance of World Mental Health Day and the importance of our psychological wellbeing. saying:

"As humankind races forwards with technological and social change, we need to ensure that the undeniable benefits of progress are matched with protection for those things that make life worth living.

Psychological factors are not only fundamental for our mental health - and the British Psychological Society continues to promote a humane and effective psychosocial perspective - but also underpin our relationships, our behaviours towards one another and, of course, our physical health.

This year, for World Mental Health Day, we are focusing on two issues. Human relationships - not technological solutions - should be at the heart of psychological care of people with mental health problems, and that means we need to attend to the mental health of colleagues who choose to work in this area."

Equally, we must recognise that the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights are also key to proper mental health care.”

EFPA's goals for professional psychologists and their organisations are that they will:

  • accept and realise human rights as the standard for their professional behaviour;
  • take a public position as professionals condemning any human rights violations;
  • publicly intervene if they foresee that government action carries the danger of Human Rights violations;
  • offer their support to alleviate the consequences of Human Rights violations.

EFPA hopes that, among other methods, through the education of psychologists by its board for human rights and psychology.

Professor Kinderman says:

“I am in Venice, working with the European Union's Fundamental Rights Agency to ensure that protection and promotion of the fundamental rights of people with mental health problems (and us all) are central to our work.

For me, and for the British Psychological Society, humane and effective mental health care must address the full range of human needs, and this means ensuring that clinical and technological approaches are used only in the context of an appreciation of the fact that there is no 'them and us'.

We all need to understand and nurture our psychological health, the importance of societies that provide the social prerequisites for genuine psychological wellbeing and mental health, the centrality of human relationships, the need to listen to individual life stories and experiences and, particularly, the need to protect and promote the fundamental human rights of people in receipt of mental health care."

In 2005 the British Psychological Society took a stand on human rights by issuing a declaration on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


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