desk sign saying president

A Letter From the President

From your SfHP President > Helen L. Coons, PhD, ABPP

What a year! As I write my final communication as SfHP President, I recognize that few of us have the words to fully capture what the past 18+ months have been like for our members, families, organizations, and communities. It is frankly indescribable. No question that we have faced complex challenges –some new and almost all ongoing. The global COVID-19 pandemic, economic instability, increased caregiving, isolation, racism, sexism and hate, divisiveness and violence, election stress, devastation from weather events and fires, among others. During this entire time, health psychologists have made remarkable contributions by using our expertise to benefit society. We stood up, quickly pivoted our service delivery, research, and education and training models, and have worked tirelessly to make a difference in people’s lives. So many members have truly been leading at the forefront of the pandemic and actively addressing health disparities.

We have supported health care workers and hospital staff caring for critically ill patients and their families, offered clinical services to patients with COVID and other conditions, used our science to address mask and vaccine hesitancy, and brought our voices to policies and advocacy to promote health equity, research and training programs, and reimbursement. The SfHP recognizes the importance of documenting the experiences of health psychologists during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and looks forward to sharing the results of our survey on Health Psychologists and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Contributions and Consequences.  We will use the findings to guide resources and initiatives that may be helpful to members.

The Society has also remained very focused on member benefits, programs, and collaborations.  While we will miss seeing colleagues in person at the 2021 Convention, we have a robust virtual program which continues to showcase health psychology science and practice.  Deep thanks to Tyler Branagan, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine, for your impressive oversight of the program. Highlights are featured in this issue or see apa.org/convention for full programming.

During the year, we also prioritized engaging new and diverse SfHP members in both Division and APA initiatives.  We routinely invited colleagues to consider APA boards and committees and other leadership positions, facilitated nominations for these roles, and are thrilled that many members will bring health psychology to important tables.  We have also appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with APA on a range of pressing issues such as COVID-19 well-being resources for health care providers, possible initiatives to improve population health, maternal health, and other health-related priorities.

The SfHP is also very pleased to offer the leadership mentoring programs in August 2020, April 2021, July 2021 and again in August 2021.  This popular event brings health psychologists in academic health centers, VAs and community hospitals together with distinguished leaders in our field to discuss a range of leadership issues and challenges. We are thrilled that these events are so well-received by members, are grateful to the faculty who serve as mentors and look forward to continuing this series in 2022.

Speaking of leadership, one of the many highlights of this year has been to partner with  Zeeshan Butt, PhD, Past-President, Barbara L. Andersen, PhD, President-Elect, and our outstanding Administrator, Barbara Keeton.  In addition, our Executive Committee, and chairs of our Counsels, Committees and Interest groups have worked tirelessly on behalf of the Society. Everyone’s collaboration, wisdom, leadership experience and enduring commitment to the SfHP has made our work all the better.

With my appreciation,

Helen L. Coons, Ph.D., ABPP
SfHP President
APADiv38@verizon.net

Helen Coons, Ph.D., ABPP
SfHP President