By Teresa Ober
Since 2007, the members of various Psychology NGOs at the United Nations have been active in organizing an event that has gained increasing precedence in recent years. “Psychologists have been actively engaged at the UN for a long time,” commented Dr. Ayorkor Gaba, the current Co-chair of Psychology Day, an American Psychological Association (APA) Representative to the UN, as well as a central figure in the organization of the event. Dr. Gaba continued by commenting that “For the past 10 years, Psychology representatives at the UN have been hosting the Psychology Day at the UN to highlight Psychology’s contributions to the UN Agenda.” Now in its 10th inception, Psychology Day at the United Nations continues to attract a wide range of individuals from across broad disciplines both within and peripheral to the field of Psychology. Each year, the organizers focus on timely issues that impact the psychology of humanity on a global basis. Last year, the theme of the event focused on the psychological well-being of refugees and migrants. This year, the theme focuses on the third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3): Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for for all. The conference aims to provide insights into how an understanding of psychological processes may contribute with respect to the social, economic, and environmental pillars of the UN.
As it has in the past several years, Psychology Day at the UN this year will provide an opportunity for experts and students across the field of psychology to share in a learning experience within the confines of the famous grounds of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Many who teach psychology with an emphasis on international, cross-cultural or multi-cultural issues may already encourage their students to attend.
“For the most part, students get much of their information from lectures and textbooks,” stated Dr. Comfort Asanbe, Associate Professor of Psychology at the College of Staten Island CUNY and APA Representative to the UN. This format of transmitting information can be problematic particularly when trying to support students in understanding the complex ways that human beings are affected when their human rights are not recognized. Dr. Asanbe continued, expressing that “Attending Psychology Day at the United Nations event provides a unique opportunity for students to experience the dissemination of psychological information derived from principles and scientific studies, to the world body.” Dr. Asanbe further conveyed that “This has applied value for the development of policies that have the potential to better psychological health at the global level. In essence, if the stakeholders adopt and implement relevant information presented at this forum, this will be a strong justification for all the efforts put into hosting the Psychology Day at the UN.” Speaking to the power of taking action, Dr. Asanbe emphasized that “Students can read about each of the topics that will be presented at this UN event, but I believe that being there in that setting, will be quite an experience that they will not get sitting in their classrooms.”
More information about the event can be found here: https://www.unpsychologyday.com/ . Those who plan to attend are encouraged to register as soon as possible and no later than April 7 as registration is required to attend.
A special thank you to both Dr. Ayorkor Gaba, Dr. Comfort Asanbe, and Dr. Janet Sigal for their support in writing this piece!