From the Chief Executive, November 2020

Sarb Bajwa writes.

The impact of Covid-19 on our members has been stark, and I think it’s important to keep highlighting the range of resources that we have produced, covering the breadth of the discipline and showing just what a wide-reaching crisis this has been.

While the effect on anyone working in the NHS or health care is immediately apparent, there have also been huge challenges for our members working in academia, and psychology students – the future of our organisation.

To assess this and find out what help we can provide, we’ve been running a survey which received almost 2000 responses and has uncovered some extremely concerning trends that need to be addressed quickly.

Of the academic staff who responded to the survey, almost all (97 per cent) felt that the pandemic has led to a negative impact on their workloads, and a similar number see this as their greatest challenge going forward.

Equally worrying are the responses on wellbeing, with three quarters of the academic staff surveyed feeling that this had been negatively affected since the beginning of lockdown.

There is also a knock-on impact on research, with around 70 per cent of both academic staff and PhD students who responded suggesting that their ability to undertake, write up, submit and present their research has been compromised.

With the effects of the pandemic and routes back to some degree of normality only just being understood, it’s more important than ever that academic psychologists and students are able to carry out high-quality and impactful research.

Our Research Board, led by Professor Daryl O’Connor, will consider how best we can support and facilitate researchers during the pandemic and beyond.

The board is already developing a hub for online research resources that we hope will prove helpful, and which respondents saw as the top priority for BPS support.

We also asked psychology students what support we could be providing to help them through this difficult period. Advice and guidance on careers came out on top there, with more than 80 per cent deeming it a top priority.

This chimes with the messages that we’ve been getting from student members during our member journey project, and I’m delighted to be able to say that we’ll be announcing more careers initiatives for our students during the rest of this year.

If you’re a psychology lecturer, researcher or student and didn’t have the opportunity to respond to this survey, I’d love to hear your ideas on what the BPS can do to support you during Covid-19 and beyond – please get in touch.

Sarb Bajwa is Chief Executive of the British Psychological Society.
Contact him at [email protected]

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