Board on „Psychology and Human Rights“: Extending Network

The EFPA Board on „Psychology and Human Rights“ – joined by a group of interested FSP members – met with international human rights organisations in Geneva. Having been formed in July 2015, the Board’s main activities are awareness raising and human rights education of psychologists. In these endeavours, the Board has established collaborations with the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The Board used the opportunity of the “European Semester for Psychology” being hosted in Switzerland to extend its network for future collaborations. Meeting with Human Rights Officers from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the participants learnt about the work of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture that – since 1981 – has provided assistance to more than 630 organisations worldwide to help victims of torture to relieve their suffering and to build new lives.

Mental health services have to meet the needs of people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities. However, the care provided is often of poor quality and does not respect human rights. In the meeting with representatives from the World Health Organisation’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, participants were introduced to the QualityRights Project initiated by WHO to unite and empower people to improve the quality of care and promote human rights in mental health and related services and discussed the role psychologists can play to support the project’s objectives.

The last visit at the Offices of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) was used to discuss mental health issues of migrants, the services provided by IOM for those who have left their countries of origin facing multiple risks in transition as well as in the host country where access to care and particularly psycho-social care is often limited by due to financial, cultural as well as legal barriers.

Fostering exchange, knowledge sharing and joint activities is the aim of the platform “European Semester of Psychology” hosted by the Federation of Swiss Psychologists (FSP) between January and July 2017.  In facilitating joint meetings of the Board on “Psychology and Human Rights” and FSP members with international human rights organisation, we could definitively make a contribution to this end.