Psychologists have an important role to play in achieving the United Nations’ post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which include promoting health and well-being
and reducing inequality, Ambassador to the U.N. Ruben I.
Zamora of El Salvador told more than 350 attendees at the
eighth annual Psychology Day at the United Nations in April.
“Public health is not only for the body, it’s for the mind,” said
Zamora, a political scientist who is also a father and brother to
psychologists. Zamora’s El Salvador permanent mission to the
U.N. co-sponsored this year’s Psychology Day, along with the
permanent mission from Palau.
This year’s event focused on how psychologists’ work is
helping to illuminate the toll that poverty, racism and other
forms of inequality can take on health, and offer solutions to
Reducing those inequalities is among the 17 proposed
Sustainable Development Goals that the U.N. General Assembly
will consider in September. The goals, when adopted, will
provide a framework for the U.N.’s post-2015 development
agenda, replacing the eight Millennium Development Goals in
place since 2000.
Two of the goals are particularly relevant to psychologists:
goal No. 1 (“Reduce inequality within and among countries”)
and goal No. 3 (“Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being
for all at all ages”), Zamora told the gathered psychologists
and U.N. staff, member state and NGO representatives. In fact,
among the specifics enumerated in goal number three is to
“promote mental health and well-being.” It’s one of the first
times, Zamora said, that “mental health” has appeared in an
official high-level U.N. document.
The Psychology Day conference organizers chose to focus
on inequality this year for three reasons, said chair Neal
Rubin, PhD, a professor at the Illinois School of Professional
Psychology and one of APA’s representatives to the U.N.
Department of Public Information. First, he said, inequality
is a cross-cutting issue that affects social, environmental and
economic sustainability. Second, last summer’s Ebola crisis
highlighted the dire effects that inequality can have on health.
And third, 2015 is the launch of the U.N.’s International Decade
To watch a webcast of the event,
A global role
The eighth annual Psychology Day at the United Nations
focused on how psychology can help reduce health
inequalities around the world.
By Lea Winerman