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News from the SPSSI United Nations Committee

By Rachel Ravich, Ph.D., SPSSI UN/NGO Representative

At the opening of the 72nd General Assembly, the United Nations Secretary General listed seven current challenges: the proliferation of nuclear weapons, global terrorism, climate change, inequality, migration, the unintended consequences of technological advances, and cyber-attacks.

A response to the formidable challenges of our times is the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework. Its 17 Sustainable Goals, which promise to leave none behind, provide a common language and an integrative perspective. This year, indicators for each of the 17 goals were developed, and the review process of their implementation started.  In July, at the High Level Forum for Sustainable Development, 22 countries submitted voluntary progress reviews many more are scheduled to submit voluntary national reviews next year. The Sustainable Development Framework is used by U.N. agencies, business, academia, and other civil society organizations as a lens that helps understand, educate, and develop solutions for urgent interrelated issues.

The UN/SPSSI team continues to promote awareness of the Sustainable Development Framework. Sustainable Goal #3, “Good Health and Well-Being”, was the focus of the February 2, 2017, Side Event that the UN/SPSSI team organized for the 55th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development. The event on “Promoting Equal Access to Mental Health Resources for All Ages” addressed the role that poverty, isolation, stigma, and lack of knowledge play in limiting access to mental health resources. The event highlighted the role of prevention and integrative healthcare systems, including universal health coverage; and underscored the role of psychosocial support during emergencies, especially for refugee and migrant children, adolescents, and older adults who are fleeing conflict or natural disasters. Speakers included representatives of the World Health Organization and UNICEF’s Health Section.

This year the UN/SPSSI team launched its first internship program.  In cooperation with our team members, our interns developed statements in support of migration and the economic empowerment of women and girls. Interns also started the classification of SPSSI Journal articles related to each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

On April 20th, the UN/SPSSI team participated in the celebration of the Tenth Annual Psychology Day at the U.N. organized in co-operation with other psychology organizations  on “Promoting Well-Being in the 21st Century: Psychological Contributions for Social, Economic, and Environmental Challenges”.  In June, UN/SPSSI intern, Ms. Gina Roussos, recipient of the 2017 SPSSI Dalmas Taylor Award, led an Interactive Discussion on “How Psychologists can Contribute to the Sustainable Development Framework” at the annual SPSSI Conference in Albuquerque, N.M. In August, UN/SPSSI members discussed the role and experiences of psychology graduate students at the U.N. in a symposium at the 2017 APA Convention in Washington D.C.

It has been my pleasure and privilege to serve as Chair of the SPSSI United Nations Committee for the last two years. In September, the UN/SPSSI team transitioned to a new main representative.  Dr. David Livert will serve as the new Chair of the SPSSI UN Committee.  Our team took on two new interns, Ms. Esther Burson, doctoral student in Applied Psychology at New York University, and Ms. Roxanne Moadel-Attie, doctoral student in Social and Health Psychology at Stony Brook University. On behalf of the UN/SPSSI team I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Susan Dudley for her support throughout her tenure, and to extend best wishes to Dr. Livert, and Ms. Anila Balkissoon, SPSSI’s new Executive Director.

The UN/SPSSI team is also seeking volunteers to join as SPSSI UN/NGO Representatives.

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