Psychologists honoured

Ella Rhodes reports on the new year list.

This year’s New Year’s Honours list included three psychologists recognised for their careers in mental health, offender management and higher education. 

A proud cognitive psychologist and neuropsychologist, Janice Kay was recognised with a CBE for her services to higher education. Now Provost at the University of Exeter, and formerly Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology, Kay told us about her award and work with the academics of tomorrow. She said it was a 'surprise and delight' to be recognised for her work. 

Many of Kay’s achievements have come about thanks to a real belief in improving the student experience. This has involved her work with the 1994 group, a collection of research-intensive universities that focused on improving the student experience as well as improving conditions for staff. Later she has set up projects in the university all aimed at improving life for students, including encouraging students to be so-called change agents, whereby students can raise any issues they have with the way things are taught, and if this is a majority view, and research backs up their thoughts, they can set about changing it.  

Kay said, overall in her career she has been proud to empower people to improve their own learning experience, but she added working at Exeter had been a real highlight. She said: ‘The really exciting thing is just how much Exeter has grown to become in the top 1 per cent of universities, it’s recognised now for its work on climate change, diabetes and medical humanities. I’m just really excited to have been part of the development of the institution, it is about students, but also about working with our very talented staff too.’

Forensic psychologist Dr Siriol David was awarded an OBE for services to offender management, having worked across public sector prisons and the National Probation Service for 31 years. David retired from her role as Lead Psychologist for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) in Wales last year. As part of this role, David was responsible for the development of a 'through the gate' forensic psychological service to high and very high risk offenders in the community in Wales. 

This service improves the overall management of high-risk offenders across the criminal justice system and positively promotes the value of forensic psychology in a wide range of settings and organisations. David has also influenced professional practice across the criminal justice system by conducting and contributing to high-profile investigations that have resulted in significant changes to practice, one such change being the ensuring of psychological objectivity by separating the risk assessment process from the delivery of therapeutic interventions. 

David is described by colleagues as a consummate professional, and won the Civil Service Professional of the Year Award in 2014. She has a reputation for offering unwavering support to her colleagues and her team, and nominees for her award told us that David 'demonstrates leadership by actively seeking to provide an ethical and client focused service, ensuring her staff are exceptionally well trained and that they work constructively within a multi-disciplinary framework'. 

Clinical psychologist Professor Miranda Wolpert was recognised with an MBE for her 25 years of service to improving mental health support for children, young people and families. Among her many achievements, she founded the Evidence Based Practice Unit (www.ucl.ac.uk/ebpu), based at UCL and the Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families. She is also co-founder and director of the Child Outcomes Research Consortium and National Informatics Lead for the Children and Young People’s Mental Health programme at NHS England. She told us it had been both a surprise and an honour to receive the award.

Wolpert has worked closely with young people who have experience of mental health issues to make sure their voices are heard by service providers. She told us that while working as a clinical psychologist she realised there was little information about whether the approaches used with children and young people were actually working. 

However, she said, in recent years there had been a paradigm shift towards thinking about child mental health care: ‘I hope what we’re moving towards is a way to help a range of professionals and organisations, such as schools and communities, to support young people both in more actively preventing mental health problems from developing but also how to live with and manage ongoing difficulties that many will continue to experience.'

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