| by Ishara de Silva
( July 14, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) We’ve had the hazardous industrial revolution, the technological revolution, the cultural revolution in China, and, in some places, to some extent, not fully, the socialist revolutions. But is it time now for - The Psychological Revolution - both in Sri Lanka and, more needy, globally?
The array of awards splashed out incessantly to the elite of diverse professions is rarely treasured for those in the psychological field. However, does the discipline deserve better, and is innovation by psychologists essential, now, more than ever?
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the metal health charity, UK, says, the lack of parity between mental health and physical health has long been a key issue, though there is a sense that this is beginning to change.
Britain’s Health and Social Care Act 2012, he says, enshrines in law the principle that mental health should be given equal importance to physical health, and the NHS Mandate launched recently means the NHS Commissioning Board is held accountable for ensuring these words are turned into actions.
But mental health services have always been underfunded and overlooked, he adds, saying that, the people using those services have therefore lost out as a result.
Some say that we are all mentally ill until we overcome delusion, greed and hatred. In one religion, that is – Buddhism - where health of mind is seen as the root cause of many ills, not money or ideology.
As such, does conflict begin in the mind? And so do theories like the Clash of Civilisations which deem that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world only resemble this?
One in four people in the UK alone are mentally ill, annually, with one in hundred thought to be hearing voices, a symptom of schizophrenia, according to official figures. Sometimes treated as criminals, mental health bodies there are calling for greater care for patients in police custody.
In the “developing world,” standards are even poorer.
But what scope is there for breath-taking innovation in psychology (and psychiatry) to bring an end to the epidemic of mental imbalance, nationally and internationally, and can governments play a role in this by administering – A Psychological Revolution!?
Recently, we heard from the British prime minister about the launch of a new "Longitude Prize". The £1m top prize is, he said, intended to help the search "for the next penicillin, aeroplane or world wide web", according to a BBC report. Lord Rees, the current Astronomer Royal, will head a "Longitude Committee" to judge ideas.
But should innovations in psychology, be a, if not the, governmental high-priority, at present, world-wide, and would this lead, ingenuously, to new discoveries, or indeed methods, in the field? Professor Pam Maras, Professor of Social and Educational Psychology, University of Greenwich, London, thinks this is possible.
She says that .most social and behavioural issues can be understood by drawing on evidence from research in psychology and examples can be found across a spectrum from environmental behaviour to youth and adult aggression and anti-social behaviour.
She believes that governments are now starting to recognise the role psychology can play in contributing to innovative solutions to social problems but says whether this will lead to new discoveries is a broader question.
Though it is fair to speculate on the basis of proof so far this could well be the case, she says optimistically.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ishara de Silva is the former Asian Times Editor (UK) and was invited by Opinion Leader (UK) to participate in global research on “future leaders.”