Nicola’s comments conclude our review of the event
In order to be effective at the European level in contributing psychological science to policy, it is important to organise. This is true also at the national and global levels, and would apply to most third sector / civil society or membership organisations that wish to make an impact.
An important consideration is that Europe is a complex region, historically, and culturally. There are 47 countries in the Council of Europe, 27 of which are in the EU. Thinking about psychology, EFPA has 38 member countries out of the 47, including all of the 27. This means some 300,000 psychologists, with their different needs, opinions and ambitions, diverse sub specialisms and therefore identities within the discipline, are within its umbrella.
This breadth, diversity and sometimes competition can mean it is hard to show the outside world what psychology can offer and what its message is. Often, organisations lobby for a particular population, or issue. Psychology however ranges across all people of different cultures, ages, occupations … and a huge breadth of issues such as health, education, the world of work, sport, traffic … . One way communicate a recognisable message from psychology is to major on cross cutting aspects such as prevention; another is to focus for a time on specific campaigns, such as (and this is a focus for many associations this year) what psychology can contribute to tackling the climate crisis.
The focus of this round table was evidence based policies within communities. What can get in the way of using evidence based solutions? Barriers can exist within the authorities, community, and indeed psychologists ourselves. How things have always been done, what is popular, intuitively obvious, may not be the right approach. When faced with a new problem especially a crisis to address, specific evidence may already exist (for example in systematic reviews). What is generically known can be repurposed. It is also important to identify early the gaps where further research is needed and how those can be filled. How are evidence based interventions for communities chosen? Engagement is needed, to draw on local knowledge, cultural and situational fit, to adapt. It is important to foster trust in science, understanding of the scientific method, how scientific consensus is arrived at, and have trusted local figures to communicate.
All this can help to ‘break walls’ and ‘build bridges’.