There is a momentum growing amongst psychologists who are pressing for social inequalities to be addressed. Here is a statement produced by clinical & health psychologists, calling on policy makers to address the impact social inequalities have on mental health
Position Statement on Social Inequality
Who are we?
As Clinical Psychologists and Clinical and Health Psychologists in training, our experiences and backgrounds are hugely varied. As a profession, our aim is to “reduce psychological distress and enhance and promote psychological well-being” (British Psychological Society, 2013). We work with people with a range of difficulties, across the lifespan, in inpatient, outpatient, physical health, secure and community settings, including voluntary and third sector organisations. Some of us also conduct research and work in academia. Many of us have held other careers prior to training as clinical psychologists. Through this broad range of personal and professional experiences, there are certain issues we are noticing which give us significant cause for concern. Collectively, we feel it necessary that we make these concerns known.
Much media attention has been given in recent times to issues of social inequality, with the United Kingdom now the second most unequal country in the world (Inequality Briefing, 2014). Over a quarter of children, some 3.5 million, live in poverty and this figure is rising (Child Poverty Action Group, 2014). As a result, use of food banks in Britain has increased fivefold since 2010 (Oxfam Scotland, 2014). The “cost of living crisis” is real and many are living with its effects. We recognise that we, as a profession, are in a relatively privileged and powerful position, and that we may not experience first-hand some of the day-to-day experiences of rising social inequalities. Nevertheless, we do witness their impact on those affected by them in our working lives.
We held a conference, open to all, in London in June 2015. Entitled ‘Clinical psychology: Beyond the therapy room, this event aims to discuss ways in which clinical psychology can make an impact beyond 1:1 therapy, in order to build a better society and a more psychologically-caring community;
We are working towards building increased presence within existing power structures, such as the British Psychological Society and the Division of Clinical Psychology, allowing us to provide a psychological perspective on current and proposed government policy;
As a profession, we encourage people with lived experience of social inequality, including multiple inequalities, to speak about their experiences and to increase awareness of the impact of inequality on their wellbeing;
We urge policy-makers to consider the wider systemic implications of proposed changes to health and economic policy;
We also call for the media stigmatisation of those in conditions of deprivation and poverty to end; and for welfare to be considered a safety net for the most vulnerable in society rather than a weapon with which they can be coerced.
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