British Psychological Society award for book that redefines understandings of mental health and distress
22 October 2014
'Psychology, Mental Health and
Distress' is the first mainstream textbook that challenges preconceptions about
mental distress by examining the relationships between potential psychological,
social and biological risk
factors, rather than adding to traditional psychiatric or bio-medical explanations.
Professor Paula Reavey is currently
Postgraduate Director in LSBU's Department of Psychology and defines herself as
a social psychologist carrying out research with individuals experiencing
mental distress, in hospital and in the community.
The book was co-authored by Loughborough
Cromby, and David Harper at the University of East London and addresses among
other things the link between mental distress and psychological and social
factors, such as difficult life events in varying social and cultural contexts.
This view challenges more traditional approaches that locate unusual
experiences, such as 'hearing voices' in as yet undiscovered 'brain diseases'.
The authors also explores how cultures and societies treat those who experience
mental distress, with the book containing contributions by those who have used
the system, the 'experts by experience' who continue to challenge traditional
psychiatric theories and treatment.
The BPS Book Award recognises
excellent published work in psychology and is made jointly by the Research
Board, Psychology Education Board and Professional Practice Board.
Professor Reavey commented: "I could
not be happier to receive this award. Challenging the mainstream is always a
little unnerving, and an awful lot of hard work, but it was certainly worth it.
I hope this award will signal a shift in the way we look at the psychology of
mental distress, that we will see the people behind the labels they are given,
and that we will think more carefully about the relationship between psychosocial
contexts and our bodies, brains and minds.
"Along with my main collaborators, this
book would not have been possible without the unique contribution from
individuals who have been in the mental health system and continue to live with
unusual and distressing experiences, day after day. These creative and
resilient individuals are my greatest inspiration. Without their insight and wisdom, I am not sure where my thinking
would have taken me.
"My students at LSBU also continue to
push the boundaries of my thinking. Their wide and varied experiences of life
from a diverse set of social and cultural backgrounds have truly expanded my understanding
of the role played by context in relation to psychology and mental health. This
book is dedicated to them, in recognition of the years I have had the privilege
of working with such bright, brave and determined people."
As a recipient of the award,
Professor Reavey has been invited to deliver a Book Award Lecture at the BPS
annual conference on 6 May 2015.
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