Collectivising ‘wellbeing’ in troubled times
Community Psychology Section AGM
Wednesday 12th December,
5pm-8pm at University of East London, Stratford Campus (RB 1.04)
We are pleased to announce that, as part of the BPS Community Psychology Section AGM, we are hosting two wonderful speakers:
Dr Ruth Cain, Senior Lecturer at Kent Law School, and
Dr Deanne Bell, Senior Lecturer and Critical Community Psychologist at UEL.
Both are inspiring academics and activists who have specialist interests in exploring alternatives to pathologising individual distress. See the abstracts for their talks below. Plus there will be time for interactive discussion.
All welcome - members and non-members of the BPS and the section, the general public etc. So spread the word!
We’d love for as many members of the CP section to come so we can all think together about the section’s activities for 2018-2019. We will also be electing and co-opting new members and officers of the committee so please if you’re a member consider putting yourself forward.
Dr Ruth Cain will be talking about resistance to resilience and community versus wellness: collectivising ‘wellbeing’ in troubled times.
As work and life become increasingly more precarious and mental health is repeatedly pronounced to be ‘in crisis’, successive governments have prioritised ‘wellness’ as a goal within which mental health is absorbed into notions of productivity, work-readiness, self-care and private responsibility. The buzzword ‘resilience’ has been increasingly used in this context, applied particularly to children and seen as a character trait that can be inculcated. Wellness discourse comprises various fragmented and often contradictory government and corporate initiatives and a PR regime aimed at demonstrating that mental health stigma is ‘over’, while savage cuts to actual services continue. The relentless individualism of wellness discourse disguises an often moralistic or dismissive attitude to the real difficulties faced by the most marginal members of society and those suffering persistent psychological distress. I argue here for a community-based doctrine of resistance to resilience, with a focus on constructive and supportive, permanent structures that will assist the distressed in increasingly troubled times. I also argue that in the long term investment in such structures and the abandonment of individualised wellness initiatives would be economically beneficial, even in terms of strict profit, since abandoning the distressed to ‘self-care’ causes significant ongoing damage to individuals and the social fabric, resulting in ever more ‘emergency’ measures and punishments of the ‘irresponsible’.
Dr Deanne Bell will be discussing Reimagining Distress and Possibilities for Social Transformation: From Psychic Wounds to Psychosocial Accompaniment.
What if we reimagined individual distress as psychic wounds produced by coloniality? What if we reimagined healing outside of medicalised structures and systems and considered what is required of us if we take on the task of social transformation? These (and other) questions invite us to explore ideologies and systems that individualise and pathologize human distress. They also provide the opportunity for us to shift the conversation to different conceptualizations of psychosocial pain such as collective trauma, social suffering and structural violence – three interrelated aspects of coloniality that produce distress. From this perspective possibilities emerge for us to consider social healing and the imperative for social transformation in the UK.
AGM proceedings for the BPS Community Psychology will take place during this event. The information about available positions is available on the BPS website.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Sally and Kirsty and the rest of the BPS Comm Psych section committee
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