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Apr102012

Psychologists Celebrate the 5th Annual Psychology Day at the United Nations

 Contributions from Psychology to the UN Agenda on Meeting the Human Rights of Vulnerable People are Offered

 

Psychologists who represent NGOs (non-governmental organizations) at the United Nations will hold the 5th Annual Psychology Day at the United Nations on April 19, 2012.

 

The theme of this year's conference is “Human Rights for Vulnerable People: Psychological Contributions and the United Nations Perspective.” The topic was chosen because achieving human rights is an ongoing major mission of the United Nations and its extended community.  The meeting will be held at the UN Church Center located at 777 UN Plaza on First Avenue and 44th Street, across the street from UN headquarters in New York City, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 

Psychology Day at the United Nations is an annual event sponsored by psychology organizations that have Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The event offers UN staff, ambassadors and diplomats, NGO representatives, members of the public and private sectors, students, invited experts, guests, media and other stakeholders, the opportunity to learn what psychologists contribute to the United Nations, to exchange ideas and to establish partnerships on global issues. 

 

“Psychology plays a major role in achieving the global goals of the United Nations as well as of civil society,” says Martin Butler, Ph.D., Co-Chair of the 2012 Psychology Day at the UN and NGO Representative to the United Nations for the International Association of Applied Psychology. “We are very pleased that this year’s Psychology Day at the UN brings many academicians and advocates together with UN staff to exchange psychological principles and United Nations perspectives on the crucial topic of human rights for vulnerable peoples.”

 

Three panels will be held.  The panel on “Psychosocial Well-Being of Refugees” features Ms. Grainne O’Hara, Senior Policy Advisor for the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR); as well as Adeyinka Akinsulure-Smith, Ph.D., originally from Sierra Leone and currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at City University of New York; and Katherine Porterfield, Ph.D., former Chair of the American Psychological Association Taskforce for Effects of War on Refugee Children and Families Residing in the U.S.. Both Akinsulure-Smith and Porterfield are staff psychologists at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture  

 

The panel on “Poverty Eradication in the Lives of Women and Children” features Telma Viale who is the Director of the International Labour Organization in New York and who is also a trained psychologist. She is joined by Stuart C. Carr, Psychology Professor in the Industrial and Organisational Psychology Programme at Massey University in New Zealand who was recently appointed as an EU Erasmus Mundus Scholar in Humanitarian Work Psychology. Also speaking on that panel is Winifred Doherty, a social worker trained at University College Cork Ireland, who is a UN NGO representative for the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and who also serves as Chair of the UN NGO Committee on Social Development.

 

Panelists discussing “Mental Heath and Sustainable Development” include Vijay Ganju who is CEO of the World Federation of Mental Health, an NGO accredited at ECOSOC at the UN; Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, Associate Professor at Georgetown University Medical School; and Richard Dougherty, President of Basic Need US, a non-profit organization focusing on poverty and human rights with programs in Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Lao PDR, Vietnam, and Nepal.

“Besides the present focus on the topic of human rights for vulnerable peoples, psychology provides research and best practices on a wide variety of important issues.  These include ageing, trafficking, domestic violence, poverty, mental and physical health, gender equality and education,” points out Co-Chair of Psychology Day at the UN, Janet Sigal, Main Representative to the United Nations for the American Psychological Association. 

 

In the past, Psychology Day at the UN has addressed the topic of “Psychology and Diplomacy” including ‘Negotiating Humanitarian access” and the “Human Aspects of Diplomacy” as well as the topic of “The Role of Psychology in Achieving Universal Access to Education,” specifically focused on projects encouraging STEM education for girls.  Psychologists representing NGOs accredited at the UN come from varying specialties, including clinical, educational, social, developmental, counseling, community and industrial/organizational.  They participate in various committees and working groups (for example, on the family, migration, technology, human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, climate change and disaster recovery); advocate at UN commissions (for example, the Commission on Social Development and the Commission on the Status of Women); and design, implement and evaluate original field projects related to the MDGs (for example, on poverty eradication in Haiti and on women’s empowerment in Lesotho, Africa).

 . 

Admission to the conference is free. A reception following the sessions will be held at the nearby Alcala Restaurant, 342 East 46 Street.

 

Psychological organizations co-sponsoring the event include the American Psychological Association APA), the International Division of the American Psychological Association (APA Division 52), APT Metrics, the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP), the Institute for Multicultural Counseling and Education Services (IMCES), the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), the International Council of Psychologists (ICP), the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS), the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP), and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI).

 

For information, visit: www.unpsychologyday.org

or contact the Planning Committee Co-Chairs: Dr. Janet Sigal (janet2822@aol.com) or Dr. Martin Butler (butlerpsych@cs.com). 

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