Zeeshan Butt, PhD
Associate Professor, Medical Social Sciences, Surgery
(Organ Transplantation), & Psychiatry and Behavioral
Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
In early March, the last time I wrote a President’s column for our newsletter, I had no clear idea what the next few months would look like. I certainly didn’t know how anxious, depressed, scared, angry, and exhausted I would feel on a regular basis. Or that I would cycle through those emotions several times in a single day. I know from being on numerous phone and Zoom calls with many of you, that you’ve been having a similar experience.One thing that I realized during all of this is how important self-care has been. We all have our own recipes for this: for me, it’s been a combination of regular downtime with my kids, walks, and bike riding.
Our colleagues working on the healthcare front lines during this pandemic have challenging demands, too. To help address those needs, several of our Board members, including Drs. Helen Coons, Susan McDaniel, Kristen Riley, and Nancy Ruddy assisted in the creation of a set of free resources to help healthcare professionals get through their daily challenges. In a similar vein, the Society has also been an active participant in an inter-Divisional collaboration meant to develop and identify resources for those impacted by COVID-19. This is the type of work that highlights the expertise of health psychologists in a way that is both practical and helpful.
Within our Society, we have also been doing our best to enhance the voice of health psychology and health psychologists. For example, thanks to the leadership of Christopher France, Jerry Suls, and Austin Baldwin, we have a new publishing agreement for our journal, Health Psychology, that runs from 2021-2028. KayLoni Olson was named our first Postdoc Representative to the Board of Directors, adding to the perspectives of students and early career professionals already represented. During this year’s apportionment vote, we were able to retain three representatives to APA Council. Thanks to Dawn Jewell, we have been able to initiate an evaluation of our website (www.societyforhealthpsychology.org) to inform an upcoming redesign (stay tuned!). I’m also very excited that we have partnered with the Society of Clinical Psychology (APA Division 12), to allow us to provide continuing education credits for future webinars, teleconferences, and other outreach. Thanks to Annie Bradford for leading the task force that made that possible. I’m very pleased that in the past few months we’ve been able to name Tanecia Blue the first Diversity and Inclusion Officer within the Society. While the position was officially created just recently, it was the result of thoughtful discussions over the years led by Past-Presidents Justin Nash and Nancy Ruddy, with significant leadership from John Ruiz. These are just a few of the highlights of the year. In my presidential address, originally slated for our in-person APA Convention — but now to be delivered virtually — I’ll summarize more of the great work being done by the Board on your behalf. You’ll also want to check out the wonderful programming that Julie Radico has put together for us this year.
What have I learned over the past year, as I’m approaching the end of my term as President? Well, for one, even in the midst of a pandemic, our Society finds a way to take care of itself and the communities we serve. For another, this service is never a singular effort – it’s always about a group of excellent leaders coming together. Our Administrative Officer, Barbara Keeton, is both the institutional memory and the heart of this organization and it’s been a privilege to work closely with her this year. For many reasons, I’m looking forward to Helen Coons beginning her term in just a few weeks. This is our Society, and we have so much more growth to come.
Best wishes, Zee
Zeeshan Butt, PhD President, Society for Health Psychology