In focus
BPS updates

DCP In Focus: December 2023

Welcome to the December edition of DCP In Focus.

17 December 2023

Well, it’s the last edition for 2023 and we hope you have found another year of news and information helpful in your professional lives. Sometimes there are events which touch us on very personal levels too and the situation in the Middle East is certainly one of those.

We lead this edition with a very sensitive piece from our EDI Lead, Sidrah Muntaha, in which she articulates the complexities that we are all grappling with at this time in a way we hope you will find supportive.

As we go into next year we are starting work on our DCP Review of 2023, which will summarise all the work we have undertaken over this last year for you, our members, for the profession and for the public. We would like to acknowledge just how much the BPS staff members have contributed in supporting us in all this work - we could not have done it without them.

The other great strength of being in the BPS is the wider community of psychologists to whom we are connected and our work with other networks has been increasing. The effective combination of the expertise and commitment of BPS staff and the networks coming together can be seen clearly in the BPS Campaign for the NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs reported below.

Finally, I want to flag a helpful new document recently published on the DCP website, which helps to guide prospective authors through the publications process

Wishing everyone a restful and enjoyable break over Christmas and all the best for 2024.

- Julia Faulconbridge, DCP communications and publications lead


Collective cries - reflections on the conflict in the Middle East

The Gaza/Israel conflict has had and continues to impact on members particularly those with connections in the middle-east as well as those who may not have direct links, but are nonetheless affected by the destructive images seen in the news and on social media.

The BPS has published guidance on how to speak to children about war, which we would encourage members to read and to share.

Members of the DCP executive committee have met to reflect on the impact this conflict has had on ourselves and each other. Given the sensitivities, members are encouraged to be mindful of the ramification of this on our psychological workforce, our service users and our wider communities. 

The DCP EDI sub-committee has also met during this period to consider how we as clinical psychologists have and continue to respond in light of ongoing political violence faced by ordinary citizens in Gaza and Israel. Given the significance of this, we will be working with our members to meet the needs particularly of those who may feel unheard or under-represented in the profession.

Whilst the DCP EDI Sub-committee works across faculties and branches, we acknowledge that a great deal more work needs to be done to coordinate our efforts especially when faced with unprecedented events such as this.

The reality of war especially for those with historical or intergenerational experience of political violence can evoke strong emotions. This can leave lasting marks on our sense of belonging in the profession and can in turn cause division amongst colleagues and communities particularly those of Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths.

It is important to acknowledge and be respectfully mindful that everyone responds to trauma differently. Our responsibility as the DCP EDI sub-committee is to bring to attention that the conflict in Israel/Gaza has led to members of the profession feeling vulnerable, unheard and/or isolated.

Distressing images in the news and social media may trigger your own trauma, both current, historical and intergenerational. Members may find themselves distancing from colleagues, avoiding conversations and preferring not to engage in discussions regarding this.

Others may find themselves feeling angry, upset and isolated without necessarily feeling supported or able to speak openly with colleagues who may be perceived as ‘the other’. These feelings of anger, vulnerability and perceived injustice may require safe psychological spaces to be heard and received with empathy and kindness for all affected.

Members of the profession may simply not know what to say. This frozen approach of being unable to think, say or do anything itself may be indicative of the complexity of grappling with your own uncertainties and fears whilst attempting to position yourself as the container for your service users and/or supervisees and staff.

You may also find yourself in a space where you wish to fight perceived injustice and ongoing/historical persecution which can provide a temporary sense of control. 

However, the longer term impact of perceived injustice and the ongoing conflict in the middle-east and other war zones can lead to helplessness, increased isolation from peers and compassion fatigue.

We are particularly mindful of the needs of trainee clinical psychologists, some of whom have only just entered their first year of training. This may be an important time for trainee coordinators and higher education to provide safe spaces for trainees and tutors to come together to offer mutual support and connection.

Many Muslim and Jewish colleagues have approached me over the last few weeks to share their sense of shock, anger, isolation and lack of safety in their communities and/or in their places of work. Very few have felt safe enough to access support from their supervisors, managers or colleagues at work. It is important to keep in mind the needs of members who, consciously or unconsciously identify with Israel, Palestine or both through shared intergenerational trauma.

This is particularly important when considering a trauma informed approach in mental health services and in higher education. This awareness and commitment to all members of society forms the underpinning of our ethos in the EDI Sub-committee of working towards a culture of inclusivity in clinical psychology for all.

For me, it is more important than ever to unite as a professional group and to draw on our collective conscience and compassion for each other. I would like to end with a poem which comes to mind.

Written by Rabindranath Tagore, this poem describes the cries of humanity and asks for peace during times of turbulence. I hope that our members find moments of peace during this festive period and opportunity for solidarity with our colleagues, friends and communities from all and no faiths during the coming year ahead.

- Dr Sidrah Muntaha, DCP EDI lead

 'Collective Cries' by Rabindranath Tagore (original poem in Bengali translated by Sidrah Muntaha)

Hear their collective cries Oh Father!

Whisper in their ears

Words of hope.

Instil in their souls

An anticipation of promising times

Yet to come.

Barely surviving this existence

They hold dearly onto

The slightest hope.

Whatever little they gain is lost

Their hearts remain un-consoled

In search of sanctuary

Chasing a mirage in the desert

They wander from here to there.

The day draws to an end.

The darkness of the evening descends.

The anxious heart weeps

Trembling in fear.

What lies ahead Oh Lord?

Where will we find peace?

Come Oh Father!

Offer yourself to us.

Come within our reach

And fulfil our hopes and dreams

NHS Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs campaign update

'Learning from the NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs’ report

The BPS has published a new report ‘Learning from the NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs’, which urges investment in staff mental health services, complete with consistent standards, to help tackle the workforce crisis within the NHS, and protect patient care.

The report outlines eight key principles and related recommendations, sharing learnings from the hubs and the wider evidence base. It aims to support health and care leaders when they make crucial decisions about future investment in local staff mental health and wellbeing services.

It also highlights the need for standards for staff mental health provision, amid concerns that staff struggling with their mental health could face a postcode lottery to access the support they need to continue in their roles. We are using the report to support our meetings with senior leaders within integrated care systems, as we continue to campaign on a local and national level.

Short campaign film

The report is accompanied by a new campaign film, which features frontline testimony from staff members who accessed support from their NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs, alongside insight from clinical hub leads.

HSJ and BPS webinar – Providing mental health support to NHS staff

The BPS also teamed up with Health Service Journal last week, to host a webinar exploring the need for ongoing mental health support for NHS staff. The webinar is available to watch on-demand and features thought provoking insight from our panel, including DCP chair Dr Roman


Primary Care Faculty webinar

The Primary Care faculty was initially developed by the DCP and has opened up to other divisions in order to help bring together psychologists from different divisions across the society.

The approach of this faculty is to work collaboratively with its members while responding to their needs and interests. External collaborations will be vital to help the faculty to build key network links with our stakeholders from regional ICB management, heads of services, PCN management, IAPT, primary care services, GP practices and people with lived experience. 

Given the clinical demands and workforce issues primary care services including GPs are facing, this group aims to evidence how psychologists can positively impact GPs’ (and other key stakeholders') workloads, make savings and improve satisfaction for primary care staff, patients, carers and families. As a new cross-divisional faculty, the aim is to help create a contained safe space to share and spread good integrated practices and learning.

The DCP hosted its first internal facing free webinar on 21 November 2023 titled 'Breaking boundaries: the beginnings of the Faculty of Primary Care' on behalf of the society. A Slido poll showed very good engagement from across the clinical, neuropsychology, health, educational and child, counselling and complex mental health areas. 

The poll indicated that participants liked how the topics that were covered had examples of real applied practice. Participants reported having a better understanding of how other psychologists and other professionals crossed over in their roles, the diversity and scope they brought to their joined up work and the positive impact they had within primary care settings.

Some key themes identified on what more people would like from the primary care faculty to deliver on were:

  1. Around building more inclusive connections and networking opportunities for members to interact with each other and to involve primary care colleagues and other stakeholders (GPs/ ICB management/PCN management), including those with lived experience
  2. To look at funding streams and to be proactively engaged and involved
  3. To clarify remit and scope, work inclusively, set timelines/targets and to create opportunities to influence change and improvement in the integrated new ways of working across the health sector 

The faculty hopes to create meaningful opportunities for collaborations and a joined up way of thinking, engaging and contributing internally across the different divisions/faculties/SIGs to represent all psychologists from across the career span (pre-quals, in-training and qualified psychologists).

The primary focus will be on sharing good practice, evidencing new models of care, encouraging and supporting the development of primary care psychology nationally, providing opportunities to learn from those with particular expertise in the field and ensuring psychology can continue to be at the vanguard for primary care service delivery and leadership.

Outcomes Framework for the Delivery of Psychological Interventions in Physical Health Task and Finish Group

Are you a lead practitioner psychologist working in physical health settings, a psychologist with academic research expertise in clinical outcomes in physical health, or someone with personal experience of receiving psychological interventions related to your physical care?

If so, the BPS wants you to join its Task and Finish Group to establish an Outcomes Framework for the Delivery of Psychological Interventions in Physical Health!

More information is available on the BPS website.

CPF 370 out now

The latest issue of Clinical Psychology Forum, number 370, is available now for DCP members to access free on BPS Explore. Keep an eye out for an email notification when CPF 371 is published this month.

Upcoming events

  • The BPS is hosting an online workshop on refugees, asylum seekers and mental health on 25 January.
  • Our Faculty of Addictions is hosting its annual conference on 26 January.
  • Helen Pote and Gary Latchford of our Digital Healthcare Sub-committee are presenting at a webinar on digital inclusive practice on 12 January.
  • Our Faculty of Clinical Health Psychology and Faculty for HIV and Sexual Health are joining forces to host an online workshop on transitions in healthcare on 29 February.

Read more on these topics