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Community Psychology Promotes Prevention

Community Psychology Promotes Prevention

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, meaning greater resources should be put into proactive community psychology research and services, says the organizer of the 9th Biennial Australia-Aotearoa (New Zealand) Community Psychology Conference being held in Tauranga next week.

Waikato University senior psychology lecturer Neville Robertson says psychology has been traditionally focused on treating people who are mentally ill or who have particular problems.

"The value of community psychology research and services are that they can help us identify what is contributing to mental health issues at a communal level, then change the way society operates and thereby reduce problems. This can be a far more cost-effective and socially beneficial way of addressing potential and actual psychological problems in communities and individuals," says Neville Robertson.

Keynote speakers at the conference from 5-7 July include:

* Green MP Sue Bradford, the party's spokesperson on mental health issues;

* Members of Scotland's Reachout, a mental health expressive arts self-help group;

* University of Illinois psychology professor Julian Rappaport, a widely-published author on community psychology;

* Noted Màori author Patricia Grace, whose work is highly expressive of the consciousness and values of Màori.

Significant research issues to be covered at the conference include the way women have successfully used non-traditional methods of handling depression, family violence in New Zealand, alcohol marketing to young people, problem gambling, research on white supremacists, Màori identity and the way pakeha talk about race issues.

"All of this research is focused on clearly understanding the way these issues affect the mental and spiritual health of our communities in New Zealand," says Neville Robertson.

"Many of the conference speakers are leaders in their field in this country. The conference is an important opportunity to share our findings to improve the practice of community psychology on both sides of the Tasman."

The conference is being held at the Mills Reef windery. Media are welcome to attend.


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