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Lockdown Latitude: Giving Psychology Away

What did you do last weekend? I enjoyed a socially distanced festival #lockdown #latitude in my friends' back garden. It was so amazing that it made the front page of our local paper - OK it was a quiet weekend but nevertheless! Lovingly re-created and upcycled were some of the Latitude staples, the dyed sheep, the Lake, the secret garden, and of course the famous Latitude plastic glasses. What #LockdownLatitude lacked in headline acts it made up for in affection.

If you've not yet been to Latitude go next time you can. It's held each July (in normal years) in Suffolk, and is one of those festivals that offers a slice of everything nice. Alongside the poets, comics, ballet dancers, families, headliners, dyed sheep, Shakespeare, first aid tent, and food stalls, the British Psychological Society have a 'performance' tent right next door to the pop-up theatre and the great and clever Robin Ince. What a fantastically enjoyable way to 'Give Psychology Away'. #GivePsychologyAway

As an undergraduate student in Cardiff one of our very wise Professors told us that we should 'Give Psychology Away'. He told us that no matter how many psychologists were trained each year, that there would never be enough to meet everyone's psychological needs. Back then the gap between the resource of psychologists and the need for psychologists was IMMENSE. On my degree there were 40 undergraduates in each year. A few years later, as a trainee clinical psychologist, I was one of 6 in the year. SIX! Six clinical psychologists per year; four for Trent (Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and South Yorkshire!) and two of us a year to cover the three counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. I know they are pretty rural counties, but they are huge, and 2 new clinical psychologists a year wasn't ever going to cut it.

So in the 1980s it was obvious that we needed to 'Give Psychology Away'. But although it was clearly a good idea no-one had a clue how to actually 'Give psychology away'. No-one I knew, apart from at university, had ever met a psychologist. My family had no idea what I was studying or why. The only psychologist I'd ever heard of before I went to university was Hans Eynsenk. And he wasn't much of a role model. So what would we actually give away? Who would we give it to? Would 'they' want it? How would 'they' know what to do with it?

Roll on several decades and we have many many more psychologists, more different kinds of psychologists, and whole new professions of psychological therapists, associate psychologists, and psychological practitioners working in schools, child and adolescent mental health services, adult mental health services. I'm proud to have been involved in training many 100s of clinical psychologists and even more 100s of CBT therapists and psychological practitioners. And yet our professor from Cardiff was completely right, we still can't meet everyones' needs. We still need to 'Give psychology away'. Even more than we have.

We do have a bit more of an idea and sense of direction when it comes to "Giving Psychology Away' (see what I did there?). We are embedded into many parts of public services. We work on many expert reference groups, advice ministers, inform policy in education, health, science, prisons, the environment, and more. Our work is far more widely, and far more accurately described and discussed in print and broadcast media. It is often described, not always accurately, on social media. Many of us are actively talking about psychology and mental health on our own social media accounts. Most of us won't get to disseminate psychology and mental health information at Latitude. But we can still make psychology and psychologically informed services much more accessible.

So l'd like to end with a request. Everyone using this website to find FREE online training in mental health, psychology, psychotherapy, or another related purpose is benefitting from someone else 'Giving Psychology Away'. The online world makes it possible for us to share learning and resources right around the world and in return to learn for FREE. I think most of us have been amazed at the generosity that lies behind the massive amount of FREE online training. Let's pass it on. Let's 'Give Psychology Away' more than we do already. Wherever you work or learn, what can you do to share your knowledge and expertise with others? How can you link with areas and organisations that lack resources to employ or consult with psychologists or other mental health clinicians? What do you know that others would find useful? Please let's make this a conversation - tell us what you have done or plan to do to 'Give Psychology Away', and tell us when you plan to do it - today, tomorrow, or next week. Do it soon.

See you next year: if not at #Latitude then perhaps at our favourite conference or meeting. And until then 'Give Psychology Away'

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