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InPsych 2013 | Vol 35

February | Issue 1

Psychology in current issues

National Psychology Week 2012: Reaching out to communities

APS members across Australia took the ‘Think Well Be Well’ message to their communities through a wide range of events during National Psychology Week 2012.

From big community festivals to small workshops, public stalls to information displays, psychologists across Australia ran hundreds of events from 11 to 17 November 2012 during National Psychology Week. Across all of the events almost 60,000 tip sheets on understanding and managing stress and 9,000 stress balls were given out, helping to increase public awareness about psychology, psychological issues and the role psychologists play in community wellbeing.

It is impossible to present all of the great activities which took place here, but we have selected one from each State and Territory to showcase the diverse range of events.

Queensland: Community festival

Despite gusty winds and rain on the day, the APS Gold Coast Branch managed to attract over 1,000 people to their Think Well Be Well Festival. With four live bands and lots of activities for children including clowns, bouncing castles and face painting, this vibrant community event was a fun day out for the whole family. To help spread the message of psychology, there was a range of market stalls each focusing on a different psychological issue. One of the most popular stalls was the animal phobia tent where a group of psychologists teamed up with staff from the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to put willing volunteers through graded exposure.

Brad Inglis MAPS, Chair of the Gold Coast Branch, said: “It was wonderful to see so many people in the community learn about the role of psychology in a fun and accessible way. We plan to build on this success and we hope that it will become an annual community festival.”

New South Wales: Looking out for carers

Being a carer can be very demanding and often carers are so busy looking after a loved one they forget to look after themselves. To address this, Julie Bajic Assoc MAPS hosted a workshop in Marsfield for unpaid carers. The workshop covered care giving demands, self-care tips and information on common psychological symptoms in older adults. The carers shared their journeys and were encouraged to anonymously write one coping strategy which was put into a booklet and provided to all carers to assist them in the future.

Western Australia: Health and wellbeing at work

In Perth, local workers were treated to an event which focused on achieving high engagement, managing stress and promoting wellbeing in the workplace. A Taste of the Good Life at Work, which was hosted by Pauline Willis MAPS, a member of the APS College of Organisational Psychologists, emphasised that thinking well and being well at work did not have to be complicated. Pauline and her colleagues offered practical tips and strategies on meditation, diet, exercise and how to create a positive team culture. The event took place at Perth Zoo, an oasis in the middle of the city, which offered the perfect calming environment in which people could reflect on how their health and wellbeing impacts on their performance in the workplace.

Australian Capital Territory: Displays

APS members throughout ACT opted to use displays as a way to raise public awareness about the role of psychologists. Judith Buchholz MAPS hit the streets and delivered tip sheets, stress balls, posters and balloons to more than ten local GP practices. Many other members put up displays and promoted psychology in hospitals, community service centres, medical centres and offices.

Northern Territory: Networking with students

Psychology students at the Charles Darwin University networked with APS members from the Northern Territory Branch at an afternoon tea organised by the University. The event gave the students a chance to ask about career paths, strategies for securing employment and supervision, as well as current job opportunities. In addition to this event, the Branch also held their members’ breakfast event which happens every year during National Psychology Week. It is a unique opportunity for all Northern Territory APS members, including newcomers and psychologists based in remote locations, to network and stock up on APS resources.

Tasmania: Reaching out to a rural community

Diana Williams MAPS, a member of the APS College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists, saw National Psychology Week as a fantastic opportunity to engage with teachers and parents in an isolated rural community. Westerway Primary School, based in Derwent Valley north west of Hobart, is the only service in the town which made it the perfect place to bring the community together for a morning tea. Diana was keen to demystify psychology so she kept the tea informal and conversational. She spoke about the important role of psychologists, the range of support available and how to access it. The tip sheets were very popular and the parents were interested to hear that help is available.

South Australia: Thriving and surviving in an online world

From education to sports to the workplace – whatever we do these days technology is having an impact on our daily lives. In this rapidly changing environment, organisational psychologist Kathryn McEwen MAPS facilitated an all-day conference to highlight the role psychologists are playing in helping people adjust to the online world. A number of organisational and clinical psychologist guest speakers spoke about a range of issues including technology in the workplace, setting work-life boundaries, the good and bad aspects of Facebook, digital addiction and promoting healthy habits through technology. The event, which was held in partnership with the Salvation Army in Glenelg East, was a great success. More than 100 people attended from all backgrounds including teachers, parents, HR professionals, business managers and psychologists.

Kathryn said: “Last year we ran a much smaller event but this year we decided to go for a big all-day conference and it was certainly worth it. We showcased what psychology can offer in the area of technology and our delegates fed back that they learnt a lot.”

Victoria: Going out into the community

For the fourth year running, Di McGreal MAPS and several Mornington Peninsula APS members took their psychology message out to the local community by running a mental health awareness stand in a busy shopping centre in Frankston. Each year the number of people stopping by increases and this year was no exception. A lot of people wanted to know how to find the right psychologist for their own situation or for a family member. Di said: “The stand is an opportunity to talk to people who may not talk to anyone else about mental health issues – not even their doctor. This year we saw over 400 people, many of whom wanted to understand the role of a psychologist and at least 100 people came to us with in-depth queries. We also gave advice to the many high school and university students who stopped by and were considering psychology as a career.”

NPW in 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of National Psychology Week. We hope that the events reported in this article have inspired you to plan your own community event from 10 to 16 November 2013. If you are thinking about organising an event or a display, look out for useful NPW event resources which will be posted on our website in the coming months, or you can contact us on communications@psychology.org.au.

NPW 2012 media highlights

The annual APS Stress and Wellbeing Survey results released during National Psychology Week generated over 260 media appearances in outlets with a combined potential audience reach of over 25 million, making it our most successful year for NPW media coverage so far.

National and regional newspapers, TV, radio and online media outlets focused on two areas of the survey results: trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a source of stress, and younger adults reporting higher levels of stress and distress compared to older Australians. Media coverage included an article about stress which was syndicated in several newspapers including The Australian, Courier Mail, Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph, as well as more in-depth pieces in Essential Baby and Wellbeing Magazine. There was also strong interest from radio, with 185 stations featuring the survey results in their news bulletins.

References

Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on February 2013. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.