A day in the life of the Society President; more online journals for members; Society Twitter feeds; public engagement grants; research interests database; new Society website; well-being consultation; and more

President's column
This month I thought I would say something about my work on behalf of the Society. I had intended to comment on the apparent unraveling of the government’s policy on tuition fees. However, the issue continues to develop and we will know more about the extent of the shambles in a month’s time.

So, instead, have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a BPS President is like? Take the months of April and May which admittedly are among the more intensive. By the time this column appears, I will have attended the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development in Montreal. As well as being there as part of my day job as an academic, I am delighted also to have been invited to represent the Society at two events in Montreal. The first is an invitation to speak at a symposium on international research collaboration in developmental science and is the direct result of having met the symposium convener, Professor Oscar Barbarin, at the General Assembly of the International Union of Psychological Science earlier this year. The second is an invitation to a Wiley-Blackwell round table on developmental psychology where I have been asked to contribute to a discussion on the theme of ‘Putting research into practice’. This is the second such round table in a planned series by Wiley-Blackwell, and I was pleased to have attended the first in Melbourne earlier in the year.

Next, after a day to get over jet lag, I will have travelled to Southampton to attend the AGM of the Wessex Branch, to give an invited lecture and to chat with the Branch committee over dinner. For me, the opportunity to visit member networks has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the presidency and I am looking forward to my visit to Wessex. The following week will see me attending the Society’s annual meeting with the Health Professions Council in London. Later that same week I will be off to another member network, this time much closer to home. I look forward to speaking at the Annual Conference of the Northern Ireland Branch where I first became actively involved in the Society. After a short respite I will be off to Brussels for two days to represent the Society at the Presidents’ Council of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA).

Almost as soon as I get back from Brussels, and just as the May Psychologist pops through letter boxes, it’s off to the Society’s showcase event, our Annual Conference in Glasgow. On day one I will open the conference, introduce our first keynote speaker, the eminent Professor Elizabeth Loftus, and attend a civic reception at Glasgow City Chambers hosted by the Glasgow City Council. That evening, I will say a few words at the BPS and Wiley-Blackwell publishing partnership celebration.

Day two will see my Presidential Address followed by the Society’s Awards Ceremony where I will present awards to nine highly deserving recipients. That evening, Professor Ken Brown, Chair of Standing Conference Committee, and I will each say a few words at our Awards Gala Dinner before attending other social events. I am pleased to say that we will also have an opportunity to remember and celebrate our late colleague and friend Liz Campbell in her home city.

Lest you think I may be indolent during any spare time, there is much routine Society business to see to as well – mopping up after March Board of Trustees and preparing the business for the May board, responding to members enquiries and comments, dealing with invitations from other societies and public bodies, and reacting to a host of unanticipated matters. If I have one niggle, it is that much activity is concentrated towards the end of the presidential office, perhaps inevitably, since the start of the term of office has shifted to late June.

Throughout the year I have been struck by the significance placed on the presence of the President at events, both within the Society and outwith. Particularly salient has been the consistently warm reception I have received internationally, reflecting the esteem in which the Society is held. The quality and extent of our international engagement remains a personal priority.

Contact Gerry Mulhern via the Society’s Leicester office,
or e-mail: [email protected]

Measuring national well-being

The Society has responded to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) consultation regarding the measurement of national well-being. The Prime Minister, who announced the policy in November last year, wants the results to complement traditional indicators of national success, such as GDP, to provide a ‘general picture of how life is improving’.

The ONS wants to stimulate a series of debates among experts and the general public to get an idea of what we mean by well-being, what aspects of life should be included in the measurement and how the results should be used. Peter Kinderman, Chair of the Division of Clinical Psychology, prepared a response on behalf of the Society. It concluded: ‘The ONS programme to measure the nation’s well-being is a very positive, but very complex, exercise. To plan Government policy purely on economic indicators such as GDP seems inadequate, so the development of an additional index of well-being is wise.

‘But it’s a complex exercise. Well-being necessitates a focus on a wide range of domains of human life, including areas such as relationships, autonomy, and “meaning and purpose”. Measuring these is difficult. Well-being also has both subjective (“I feel happy with...”) aspects and objective elements – suicide rates, literacy rates, divorce rates, crime figures, environmental pollution indicators, etc.’

The response suggests that the expertise of psychologists could be used more effectively: ‘…there are well established approaches to measuring subjective factors like this, including psychometric properties such as confirming factorial stability and reliability of measurement; psychologists have long-standing experience and expertise to contribute in this domain.’

The Society response expressed a preference for a single index of well-being, ‘based on a measure of subjective well-being assessed in a coherent fashion across core domains, plus objective indicators for a number of the factors shown by research to have significant impact on well-being’. 

However, the response cautions that the resulting index will need to be used with care. ‘We would also sound a note of caution in advocating [its] use as the sole mechanism for evaluation, especially for government policy: variations in people’s self-reported well-being should only be considered alongside more tailored, specific evaluation of policies, and the validity of the measure should be fully tested and validated before it is used in this way.’

 - The full response can be seen at and other responses from the general public have been published at

Allotments will help a lot of men

A horticultural project for men who are at risk of depression and possible suicide was launched this spring in Barking and Dagenham with the support of a British Psychological Society public engagement grant and the North East London NHS Foundation Trust.

The project, ‘Young at heart’, aims to improve the mental and physical health of socially isolated men by involving them in regular gardening sessions and monthly support meetings. The project will feature in Radio 4’s All in the Mind with Claudia Hammond, who will also follow its progress later in the summer.

‘Young at heart’ aims to build on the history of allotment gardening in Barking and Dagenham, which makes this an acceptable method to engage men who may not otherwise access services for emotional support. Men are less likely than women to seek help for emotional issues and they are less likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression but they are three times more likely to successfully take their own lives.

Chartered Clinical Psychologist Dr Victoria Winson, leading the project, said ‘There are some 58,000 adult men in Barking and Dagenham and if you estimate that one in four of this population may suffer from mental health problems this would result a high number of men experiencing some form of emotional problem, the majority of whom will not access formal or informal treatment or support. Social isolation and exclusion is a known risk factor for poor mental health. Allotments often have a strong sense of community and are places where people from a wide range of backgrounds come together and provide an ideal place to challenge social isolation. Many thanks to the British Psychological Society and the North East London NHS Foundation Trust without whose support this project wouldn’t have been possible.’

The project was funded by the British Psychological Society’s 2010 ‘Sharing our Science: Psychology in Action’ public engagement grants. Each year the Society provides grants for sustainable activities that demonstrate the benefits of psychology to the public.

The 2011 grants are now open with £40,000 available to Society members – all applications will be considered, but we are particularly keen to hear from sport and exercise psychology projects. The closing date for applications is 1 July.

 - For more information please visit 

Research interests
The Society has launched an updated database of UK academic research interests. The database is intended to be used for keyword searches to facilitate research collaborations, to identify suitable reviewers for Research Council grant proposals, to identify possible PhD supervisors, to identify where research in specific areas is being conducted, and so on. It is not limited to Society members and includes any academics in the UK.

Professor Judi Ellis, Chair of the Society’s Research Board, said: ‘We have utilised publicly available information from university websites and are not publishing individual e-mail addresses (although we have these within the database records to use to contact entrants for admin reasons). We also consulted with the Association of Heads of Psychology Departments prior to embarking on this project to ensure that Heads of Departments were content with this database being established.’

 - See to use the database or submit your details for inclusion.

Forensic testing

The Committee on Test Standards (CTS) and the Executive of the Division of Forensic Psychology invite all Graduate and Chartered Members to respond to a consultation on standards in testing in forensic contexts.

CTS proposes three levels of certification of test users’ competence as Assistant Test Users undertaking test administration, operating under the supervision of a Test User (Level 1), as Test Users trained as competent test users of ability/aptitude and personality tests (Level 2) and as Specialists in Test Use (Level 3). This is the second phase of this consultation and follows the first stage which closed on 31/12/10.

 - The consultation opens on 3 May and closes on 3 August 2011 at

More online journals for members
Further to the announcement in February of free access for Society members to all BPS journals and a selection of 32 other Wiley Blackwell journals, we are pleased to announce two further developments (and more to come), significantly widening the range of free resources available to all members. 

BJP archive issues from 1904
First, we are delighted to announce that the archive issues for the British Journal of Psychology have now been published on the Wiley Online Library. All BPS members will be able to read articles from Volume 1 Part 1 (published in 1904) as a benefit of membership via Society members will be some of the first people who will be able to access the breadth and depth of research published over the last 102 volumes of the journal online.

Peter Mitchell, current British Journal of Psychology Editor, commented: ‘The 100-year archive of the British Journal of Psychology contains groundbreaking articles by the world’s most influential researchers. The backfile provides an outstanding resource that allows these important articles to be easily accessible to a wide audience. This will insure that the fine legacy of the British Journal of Psychology will continue to influence our discipline during the 21st century.’

Wiley-Blackwell is working with the Society on digitising the archive issues for all Society journals, and we look forward to alerting members to their availability as soon as we can.

As part of the Society’s ongoing commitment to enhance the benefits of membership, a trial arrangement has been set up with EBSCO giving all members free access to the Psychology & Behavioral Sciences (PBSC) journals database. PBSC currently contains 540 full-text peer-reviewed journals, plus 23 other full-text titles, all indexed and abstracted. Members of all grades, including student members, can now gain unrestricted access to the collection from within the BPS website members’ area. In addition to an extensive coverage in psychology, the collection includes titles in anthropology, psychiatry, observational and experimental methods, and mental processes.

The interface with PBSC is via EBSCOhost, an intuitive resource that offers various ways of searching the database – including basic and more advanced options. It is also very simple to create a personalised ‘My EBSCOhost’, which will allow setting preferences, saving search history, bookmarking, creating alerts, and much more.

The trial officially runs from 1 May for six months, though unofficially access began to be available in early April. Towards the end of the trial period, an assessment will be made based on both the level of usage and the spread of usage across membership categories. A decision will then be made on whether it is worth while entering into a longer-term centrally funded arrangement with EBSCO.

Society President Gerry Mulhern said: ‘Throughout my term of office I have received regular requests from members for free access to as wide a range of journals as possible. This is a welcome development and a clear example of the Society’s willingness to invest significant resources to meet members’ needs. During the trial, I would urge members to demonstrate demand for the database. Use it or lose it!’

To access PBSC go to – you will need to enter your membership number and password if not already logged on as a member. From there a link takes you straight to the EBSCOhost search page. There is also a link to EBSCO support pages, where you can find out more about using the system through online tutorials, FAQs, etc. We will also be offering live online tutorials to help members get the best out of EBSCOhost. Dates and times have yet to be arranged but will be announced via the e-mail Member Update.

 - For information on all library resources currently available to members of the British Psychological Society, go to

Chemical engineers
A Chartered Occupational Psychologist is among a number of leading figures in the chemical engineering sector to be named one of IChemE’s first Associate Fellows.

Ronny Lardner – who is also the Director of The Keil Centre, Edinburgh – and 10 others received the new membership grade, which has been introduced to recognise professionally qualified individuals without a formal chemical engineering qualification, who hold senior positions in the chemical, biochemical or process engineering industries.

Lardner told The Psychologist: ‘It’s good to see the results of yet more successful collaboration between British Psychological Society members and other professions to address real-world problems being recognised… Early in my career I completed the Sheffield University MSc Occupational Psychology course – this was around the time that the Cullen Report into the Piper Alpha disaster was published. One of the causal factors of this disaster was poor communication at shift handover. I decided to complete my MSc project on how to improve this important aspect of 24-hour operations in the nuclear industry. I published the results in the IChemE magazine and that was the start of a 20-year involvement with IChemE and its members.’

Consultations news

Making an impact
The Society responded to the Implementation of Autism Strategy consultation in October last year, and we were very pleased to hear that a number of points from that response were noted by the Department of Health and helped shape the final guidance. The following aspects of the guidance, in particular, reflect recommendations made by the Society:
 - it has been made clear that local authorities should appoint a local lead commissioner;
 - a description of the two types of training covered by the guidance has been included, and the discussions relating to these two areas of training have been separated out;
 - it has been noted that autism awareness training should not be seen as a 'one-off’;
 - it has been made clear that those completing assessments of need with people with autism are skilled;
 - a more definitive statement about carers assessments has been included.

In addition to the above, we were pleased that the Society is noted as one of the key partners that the Department of Health has committed to working with in order to improve the quality of autism awareness training. The full report and final guidance are available from our website (
We have also heard this month that Society responses have helped shape the updated NICE Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Guidance and the Scottish Government’s Self-directed Support Strategy.

Consultations responses
The Society submitted responses to 10 consultations during March. Full details are available from our website (see above).

In the response to Developing the Healthcare Workforce, recommendations were made in the areas of education and training (including commissioning), representation of psychology, research funding and respectful cross-collaboration between clinicians and managers.

The Bailey Review, which expressed concern over the pressures on children to grow up to quickly, was welcomed by the Society. Our response noted that this is a multilayered area with many interacting factors, and that applied psychological experience and opinion should be married with the available research.

The eight other responses were:
 - Breaking the Cycle (Green Paper) (Ministry of Justice)
 - Head Injury (NICE-review)
 - Healthy Lives, Healthy People (White Paper) (Department of Health)
 - Mental Health & Wellbeing (Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety, Northern Ireland)
 - Alcohol Problems Screening (UK National Screening Committee)
 - Autism in CYP (NICE-guidance)
 - Brain & CNS Cancer Measures (Department of Health)
 - New Indicators for QOF (NICE-QOF)

The preparation and submission of the Society’s responses to consultations are coordinated by the Consultations Response Team (CRT). All those holding at least graduate membership are eligible to contribute and all interest is warmly welcomed. Please contact the CRT for further information ([email protected]; 0116 252 9508).

Official Twitter
The British Psychological Society now has an official Twitter feed – @BPSOfficial. It will be used to tweet news about Society events and publications, as well as news and weblinks likely to interest members.A number of other Twitter feeds are flourishing within the Society, including:
The Psychologist @psychmag
Conferences Team @BPSConference
BPS Journals @bpsjournals
Division of Occupational Psychology @occpsychuk
Division of Clinical Psychology @DCPinfo
Student Members Group @bpsstudents
Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group @psypag
Occupational Digest @occdigest
Research Digest @researchdigest

The Research Digest has also compiled a list of psychologists who tweet –
Sign up and follow at

New society website – update
A detailed project plan for the launch of the first phase of the new BPS website has been agreed. The initial launch will focus on the main website, with the migration of other BPS subsites and communities to follow in subsequent phases, which will start immediately after main site launch. The new website will be demonstrated at the Annual Conference in May, with the full launch expected shortly afterwards.
 - For more information visit:; for any enquiries or suggestions, contact: [email protected]

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