Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?

(Martin Luther King)

When I wrote the first president’s corner in 2018, I asked what we can do to address the social justice agenda. During this past few months, PsySSA has been busy with numerous social justice issues. The Sexuality and Gender Division (SGD) of the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) released a statement to express their dismay with regard to the outcome of Caster Semenya’s court challenge against The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF)’s testosterone rule. The Division for Research and Methodology initiated a report against an article from Stellenbosch University that denounced a study that alleges that coloured women in the country have an increased risk of low cognitive functioning due to low education and an unhealthy lifestyle. Consequently the article has been retracted from an international journal. This endeavour has made researchers aware of the particular sensitive South African context and the influence of the past on the present.

PsySSA has been actively involved in raising awareness of social justice issues in mental health. The articles published on a monthly basis about themes such as suicide, autism spectrum disorder and  drug abuse and trafficking also provides information to practitioners of what they can do and how to obtain more knowledge . In addition, we raised awareness of the rights of children during the National Child Protection Week (CPW) and the importance of Africa Day. The executive director of the  PsySSA office entered the 21km Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town to raise awareness for mental health. On a practical level, PsySSA has been involved with Roseneath Primary School and donated library books to support reading in the school. However, PsySSA can raise awareness but practitioners should take the tough decision to act as agents of change – especially in the changing African content as a whole.

One of the main questions asked in the run-up to the 25th celebratory congress, is how mental health issues can evolve to be attentive to the key psychosocial problems facing Africa’s population, and what new modalities are developed in psychotherapy, community psychology and within mental health systems? Some of the answers to this question will be provided at the congress from 3 to 6 September at Emperor’s Palace where we can learn more from evidence based practice. Relevant research inform clinical practice and vice versa to support improved outcomes for our clients. The congress provides the background to clinical questions you may be asking and the most relevant and valid evidence to answer that question. 

Conference goers will have a choice of invited national and international presenters at the congress who will present in various streams such as assessment and evaluation, psychology in schools, sexuality and gender, Psychology in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and African psychology. The practice based pre-conference workshops will support your development as a practitioner in, for example, supervision matters and assessment of mathematical abilities. Traditionally, practitioners do not write about their practice evidence and leave this aspect to the academic fraternity. I would like to challenge practitioners to provide evidence-based practice research through PsySSA for dissemination and publication. There are various workshops at the conference to help practitioners write for publication. 

I am looking forward to the high quality and exciting plenary programme.  

We remind you that PsySSA is currently in the process of operationalising its Strategic Plan (2019-2022): Vision 2020. As we are committed to transparency and inclusion throughout the process of creating a roadmap to guide PsySSA’s strategic actions, we invited you to join us in the process of co-creating our strategic plan by sharing your points of view, priorities and hopes for Africa’s imaginaries and Psychology’s futures. Kindly read the plan on the website and give us feedback. Let this feedback not only be constructive criticism but also how the plan can be put into action for psychology practitioners to become agents of change. 

The PsySSA Nominations Committee has made us aware that the following positions on the PsySSA Executive Committee will become vacant at the forthcoming 25th AGM: President-Elect; Treasurer;3 Additional Members. The guidelines for these positions are available on the website. 

In other news: PsySSA is proud to be associated with ‘Transforming Research Methods in the Social Sciences.’ Congratulations to Prof Sumaya Laher, Dr Angelo Fynn and Dr Sherianne Kramer for an excellent open access text. The 6th Southern African Students’ Psychology Conference was held from the 24th – 26th of June at the University of Johannesburg. PsySA was present and sponsored the gifts and prizes. We are proud that the PsySSA Student Division Vice-chairperson, Muhammed Yaeesh Cassim, co-presented a workshop on networking, character and leadership building and partook in the plenary. 

I have observed that members often do not utilise their member benefits. One of the specific benefits is the free online access to a number of Psychology journals published by SAGE or the South African Journal of Psychology. This free access supports evidence based information that will be important for practice. Further benefits include that you are kept up to date about important issues for the fraternity of psychology such as the following:

  • PsySSA has made representation to the HPCSA through the ministerial investigation into the HPCSA regarding the annual registration fees paid by psychologists, the frequent administrative hassles encountered by our members in dealing with the HPCSA and the consistent misinformation on the HPCSA website. 
  • PsySSA has also been in discussion with several medical aids regarding recent decisions by certain medical aids not to reimburse certain categories of psychologists for services rendered. 
  • PsySSA has contacted the Board for Psychology office about the feedback of the minister on the new Scope of Practice. At this stage no comment can be made until the minister has made a statement
  • Information on the sites of the various divisions that provide information related to specific interest groups. 

Suntosh Pillay wrote an article for us about Mandela day. He stated that: 

in these pessimistic times of ‘state capture’, corruption, poverty, inequalities, unemployment, and other social pathologies, such as racism, rape, and homophobia, it is easy to feel despondent about the state of South African society. The metaphor of the rainbow nation has lost its currency and a politics of hope has been replaced by a politics of radical dissent. Will a ‘New Dawn’ change this? We wait with bated breath! In the spirit of the slogan of Mandela Day, “Take Action. Inspire Change”, this optimistic reminder implies that the best way to predict the future is to create it.  

Masibe amanxusa ezinguquko/ A re beng bathusi ba liphetoho/ Kom ons word agente vir verandering
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