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British Psychological Society award for book that redefines understandings of mental health and distress

The British Psychological Society (BPS) has named a textbook co-authored by LSBU's Professor Paula Reavey as Book of the Year 2014
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 University's John 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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