Psychology Day is an annual event organized by the United Nations (UN) with the support and cooperation of world psychological organizations and associations at the international level. This important event gives UN staff, country ambassadors and diplomats, representatives of government organizations and non-governmental organizations, as well as students, the opportunity to learn about the contributions of psychologists to the United Nations; and talk about global challenges to find suitable and practical solutions. In this article, I will present the history of Psychology Day in the United Nations.
What is Psychology Day at the United Nations?
The strange thing is that no specific date has been set for this day so far. If we look at the history of this annual event, we will see that this event is held on different days and even months every year! The process of holding this event is that committee has been announcing the time, topic, and venue of the meeting through the United Nations Psychology Day website and social networks since a few months ago. It is not only strange but stupid! Due to the importance of this event, the United Nations should dedicate a special day to it in the calendar.
The history of UN Psychology Day
First Annual: October 10, 2007
On October 10, 2007, World Psychology Day was held at the United Nations headquarters in cooperation with the American Psychological Association (APA) for the first time. The speakers discussed and presented three cases.
- The function of psychology and psychologists in the United Nations
- Peace and conflict resolution
- Human rights and the world of work
Second Annual: November 19, 2008
On November 19, 2008, the United Nations headquarters hosted the second gathering of Psychology Day. The topic of this meeting was “Psychology and Social Justice Related to the UN.” In this ceremony, Dr. Herbert Coleman proposed the solution of one country and two governments for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Other topics discussed were:
- Human behavior and climate change: the issue of social justice
- Poverty Reduction and Social Justice: The Role of Psychology
- Psychological perspectives on abuse of power
The third conference: February 4, 2010
The Diplomat Ballroom of the Millennium Hotel was the venue for the psychology anniversary on February 4, 2010. “Psychology and diplomacy: negotiation for peace and human rights” was the main topic of this meeting.
The Third Annual UN Psychology Day was an event that brought together mental health experts, advocates, and policymakers from around the world to discuss pressing issues related to mental health. This year’s event focused on how to create a more inclusive society and strengthen the resilience of individuals and communities, as well as promote mental health and prevent mental illness.
The fourth celebration: March 30, 2011
The celebration of fourth anniversary of UN Psychology Day was held on March 30, 2010, by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations. The main concern of this year was access to universal education at the global level; therefore, the theme “Reach them, teach them: the role of psychology in achieving universal access to education” was considered. Dina Chittayat, the co-chair of the organizing committee of Psychology Day and the primary representative of the American Psychological Association at the United Nations, gave the opening speech and said: “Providing universal education is fundamental to solving global problems.” One hundred million children worldwide do not even go to primary school. Psychologists should be at the forefront of finding out why and solving this problem.
Fifth celebration: April 19, 2012
The fifth day of psychology at the United Nations focused on mental health and sustainable development, asylum and psychosocial well-being, and eradicating poverty in women’s and children’s lives. The United Nations Church Center held the event on April 19, 2012. The topic of this meeting is “Human rights for vulnerable people; Psychological contributions and the perspective of the United Nations.”
Sixth celebration: April 25, 2013
The United Nations Church Center hosted the 6th Psychology Day on April 25, 2013. “Psychology and Violence in a Global Context: Background, Consequences and Prevention” were considered this year’s theme. Dr. Martin Butler, the representative of the World Association of Applied Psychology in the United Nations, managed this meeting. Global violence is the focus of the United Nations and the wider community. The occurrence of national and international violent incidents necessitates effectively handling this complex problem. In this event, psychologists tried to use psychological knowledge to understand and prevent violence throughout human life. The speakers of this ceremony presented various strategies to prevent global violence in multiple fields: childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age.
Seventh meeting: March 20, 2014
The United Nations held the event at its headquarters conference building on March 20, 2014. This year’s theme was “Psychological Contributions to Sustainable Development: Challenges and Solutions for the Global Agenda.” The event focused on the three pillars of sustainable development; Several psychologists and representatives of the United Nations spoke about how psychologists use the science and practice of psychology to advance social, environmental, and economic well-being. Dr. Maya Shankar (White House Senior Policy Adviser) was the main speaker at the event.
The eighth event: April 30, 2015
On April 30, 2015, for the eighth time, the UN Psychology Day was held with the theme “Reducing health inequalities within and between countries: Contributions of psychology to the post-2015 United Nations global agenda.” In this meeting, the speakers discussed ways to reduce inequality in mental health at the global level.
9th annual: April 28, 2016
The United Nations held its 9th annual Psychology Day on April 28, 2016, with the theme “From Vulnerability to Resilience: Using Psychology to Address the Global Migration Crisis.” The day was an opportunity for psychologists to discuss strategies for supporting people displaced by conflict and natural disasters. The event provided a platform for psychologists to consider the psychological implications of the crisis and explore potential solutions that could help alleviate the suffering of vulnerable populations. It also highlighted the importance of using psychological research to inform policy decisions related to migration. In addition, the event aimed to raise awareness of the psychological needs of those affected by the global migration crisis and to promote the role of psychologists in providing psychosocial support to those affected.
10th celebration: April 20, 2017
The United Nations program for this year was to promote well-being in the 21st century. This program will consider ways theory, research, and practice in the Psychology of Well-being can increase the welfare of individuals globally, facilitate the achievement of the 2015 Sustainable Goals, and address the challenges of contemporary cultural, economic, and environmental systems. The United Nations held a ceremony on April 20, 2017, in the United Nations Conference Room No. 4 in New York. Minoo Hemmati, Ann Masten, Doug Oman, and Gustav Gonzalez were among the psychology doctors who spoke at the conference.
11th celebration: April 12, 2018
April 2018 marked the 11th Psychology Day at the United Nations Headquarters. This session aimed to bring together a diverse group of experts, including psychologists, mental health practitioners, and policymakers. The theme of this session was “Climate Changes: Psychological Interventions to Promote Migration and Adaptation.” The conversations focused on topics such as how to increase resilience in people affected by climate change, how to provide psychological support to refugees and other migrants, and how to create policies and programs sensitive to the psychological needs of people affected by climate change. The experts also discussed ways to reduce the stigma around mental health issues and increase access to mental health services for vulnerable populations. Overall, the event was a significant opportunity for the global community to come together and discuss methods to address the cognitive health needs of people influenced by climate change.
12th annual: April 25, 2019
This year’s program was Psychological Partnership to Achieve Global Gender Equality. This program aims to help psychology professionals solve the challenge of gender inequality, achieve gender equality, and empower girls and women worldwide with the right strategies and solutions. The United Nations held a ceremony on April 25, 2019, in the UN Conference Hall No. 2 in New York. Speakers for the program were Dr. Lillian Comas Diaz (George Washington University), Dr. Olivia Spin (San Diego State University), Dr. Shelly Greib (University of Santa Cruz), and Dr. Virginia Shea (Gettysburg College).
The 13th Annual: May 27, 2020
On May 27, 2020, the United Nations hosted the 13th UN Psychology Day event. This annual event brings together psychologists, mental health professionals, and other experts to discuss the vital role of psychology in our global society. This year’s theme was “Psychological partnerships to build bridges between and within countries.” The event focused on the need for collaboration between countries in psychology to ensure mental health care is accessible to all. It also highlighted the importance of bridging gaps between countries to improve psychological research and understanding of mental illness. The event included panel discussions and presentations of research and initiatives worldwide. The UN Psychology Day event is an important reminder of the need for global collaboration to improve mental health care and outcomes for all.
14th anniversary: April 15, 2021
They held the event for the 14th time on April 15, 2021, when the world was affected by the Corona epidemic, and many people died. The theme of this event was “Psychological help to improve the situation in the post-pandemic world.” Because in this year, in addition to physical health problems, our world was also involved in mental health challenges, and mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression increased significantly.
15th anniversary: April 21, 2022
For the first time, at the World Psychologist Day event, psychologists from five continents gathered to discuss the latest psychological research on climate change and scientific strategies to improve the situation. The UN held an event on April 21, 2022, and the theme was “Creating Hope: Psychological Contributions to the Roadmap for Climate Action.”
Official Website of Psychology Day at United Nations: unpsychologyday.com