Equality is the best therapy

 This Spring 2018 edition of the PiElink members' newsletter is brought to you by the first of our guest editors: Rachel Brown (rachel@homelesscp.org)

We hope your interest, and perhaps your passion for change, will be sparked by a number of recent contributions that all fall within two (or three) interconnected themes.

Theme 1: The Political Context of PIE

  • a new report demonstrating the negative impact of welfare reforms on youth homelessness (from HomelessLink),
  • a briefing paper linking mental health challenges to the austerity agenda (by The Psychologist for Social Change Movement),
  • a podcast with Charlie Howard (founder of Mac-Uk) emphasising enabling change within communities
  • an online book (by Young Minds) that highlights the link between trauma and mental health challenges and
  • a critique of economics-free thinking on mental health, by Anna Macintyre and colleagues
  • The Power Threat Meaning framework. from the British Psychological Association

Theme 2: It’s All About Relationships

  • a preview of an upcoming report by the curators of ‘The R Word’ and
  • a review of some participatory action research with young people about positive professional relationships
  • a full chapter, by Emma Williamson, from a recent book (edited by Peter Cockersell) exploring our relationship to dependency

(With a keen eye, you will also notice that half of our offerings here centre on the experiences of young people........)

Theme 3: How do we respond?

  • a recent comment by Anna Macintyre and colleagues, who propose a shift from addressing individuals’ psychological states to a focus on social justice and broader economic conditions and
  • a steer towards acknowledging ‘the political’ when evolving PIEs by turning to the British Psychology Society's newly published Power Threat Meaning Framework and
  • Some ideas for taking collective action


Theme 1: The Political Context of PIE
Are PIEs political? When positioning individual and community distress as created and maintained within a political context, the potential for change is seen as held within the collective.

The following contributions present evidence and research that demonstrates how oppressive political agendas perpetuate systems of inequality and directly impact on the psychological health of individuals and communities.

This is the political context of PIE – perhaps the question to hold in mind when reading is– how do we engage with it?

Welfare reforms are exacerbating youth homelessness
(A comment on the Young and Homeless Report, below) 
Young and Homeless: is a report published in April 2018 by The Homeless Link Research Team. One particularly concerning finding is the association between recent welfare benefit reforms and the increased risk of homelessness.

The Psychological Impact of Austerity

This research-informed briefing paper by Psychologists for Social Changedirectly links cuts to public services with mental health problems, highlighting five key ‘Austerity Ailments’, and five indicators of a psychologically healthy society as a framework for change.
R Talks: Ideas not organisations

Within this podcast Charlie Howard (founder of MAC-UK) talks about the importance of asking people on the street what would help to improve their mental health;  and outlines a responsive approach, encapsulated with the phrase ‘what can we do this afternoon?’
(See also Problem solving booths, in the final section: How do we respond?'

Addressing Adversity Book (Young Minds, 2018)
A great resource from Youg Minds, developed as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the impact of adversity and trauma on the mental health of young people.
NB: Check out in particular Chapter 17, by Homeless Link's Jo Prestidge, for an excellent summary of the current picture of psychological and trauma informed practice across the homelessness sector.

What's economics got to do with it?

A recent comment by Anna Macintyre, and colleagues which highlights growing evidence connecting economic inequality and poor mental health and suggests a shift from addressing individuals’ psychological states to a focus on social justice and broader economic conditions. 

The Power Threat Meaning Framework: a Summary

The PTM framework is an alternative to the more traditional models based on psychiatric diagnosis. It summarises and integrates a great deal of evidence about the role of various kinds of power in people’s lives, and poses six simple but key questions, to guide discussion whether with individuals, families or other social groups.

Theme 2: It's all about relationships
This theme is not new, however increasingly research is highlighting that relationships are THE KEY agent for change. As relationships are a central theme running throughout the PIE: 2.0 framework (and note the new PIElink page on "relationships in PIEs 2.0, HERE) there is much common ground to be found within the following articles.

Through emphasising the achievements of organisations that prioritise relationship building, the R Word introduces the importance of ‘relational social policy’; Centre Point and Phillip Mullen discuss how positive relationships counter previous experiences of judgement and blame; and Dr Emma Williamson challenges the view that dependency is such a bad thing.

The R Word: Just Talking: How relationships disrupt social disadvantage
 Ahead of a full report due to be published on 11th May, here is an extract from an online conversation about the centrality of relationships within social policy.

What does a good professional relationship look like for homeless young people 
A report on a piece of participatory action research between a researcher -Phillip Mullen-  at Newcastle University and Centre Point, looking at what a good professional relationship looks like for homeless young people.

The Dependency Paradox
This is an excerpt - Chapter 14, by Dr Emma Williamson - from the newly published 'Social Exclusion, Compound Trauma and Recovery' (Edited by Peter Cockersell),  which explores how being able to 'depend' on others is the path to psychological health, highlighting the need for 'inter-dependence' within relationships and across systems.

How do we respond?
Faced with the evidence of the psychological impact of today’s political climate, how do we respond? Perhaps one idea comes from David Smail's work (read his obituary HERE) – that we must all cultivate ‘outsight’ about the negative influences of power around us, rather than ‘insight’ about personal challenges.
A recent comment by Anna Macintyre and colleagues ‘What has economics got to do with it? The impact of socioeconomic factors on mental health and the case for collective action’ highlights growing evidence connecting economic inequality and poor mental health and suggests a shift from addressing individuals’ psychological states to a focus on social justice and broader economic conditions. This is HERE

Yet, you may still be left with the question – how do we acknowledge and address ‘the political’ when evolving PIEs?

One recent framework published by the BPS (lead authors Lucy Johnstoneand Mary Boyle) - The Power Threat Meaning Framework - can offer some scaffolding to addressing this question. This framework  HERE positions itself as an alternative to more traditional models based on psychiatric diagnosis.

You could also join a group that seeks to take collective action:
1. The Housing and Mental Health Network
A group that emerged from some participatory action research that Dr Kate Hardy  of the University of Leeds (details HERE) and Dr Tom Gillespie(University of Sheffield) did with Focus E15, an activist group of mothers that were evicted from social housing. Take a look at their Facebook page (HERE) and you can join the mailing group (HERE).

2. Problem Solving Booths
Why not run your own problem-solving booth on the street, as discussed in the R TalksIdeas not Organisations podcast, and see what you can change this afternoon? The website is HERE

3.The Psychologists for Social Change Movement.
You could join the mailing list HERE and take part in campaigns, events and actions

That’s all for now…but do get in touch with Rachel  (rachel@homelesscp.org) to continue this conversation.