Barbara Ward-Zimmerman, PhD
Society for Health Psychology President
Building on the momentum of prior leaders, your present leadership continues to dismantle barriers and solidly embed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the culture of the Society for Health Psychology (SfHP), weaving actions reflecting these values into the work of every Board, Council, Committee, and Interest Group. With your input and involvement our impact and progress will continue to grow.
What DEI activities are underway in the SfHP?
As background, the Board of Directors’ commitment to DEI values has previously been demonstrated by acts such as establishing a Diversity and Inclusion Officer position on the Executive Committee (with Tanecia Blue, PhD, ABPP serving as our inaugural elected officer) and the formation of a Diversity Council, presently chaired by Patricia Moreno, PhD. This commitment has been effective, evidenced by increased diversity in our membership and leadership. Notably, in 2022 our Student Advisory Council, under the guidance of Nicole Arrato, Past Chair, conducted a survey of SfHP graduate students and Post-Doctoral Fellows with a focus on DEI-related needs. Twenty-seven of the 97 respondents (nearly 30%) identified as a race/ethnic minority. Another noteworthy example of advancements in representation has been accomplished by John Ruiz, PhD, Health Psychology Editor-in-Chief. The journal’s workforce is currently comprised of 148 exceptionally qualified scholars, reflecting substantial racial/ethnic diversity (e.g., 6 of 11-members of the Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editors Team identify as scholars of color and 7 Early Career Fellows from traditionally underrepresented groups have recently been added with the support of stipends from APA and SfHP), which, according to Dr. Ruiz, makes this editorial board among the most diverse. These increases in representation of historically underrepresented groups in health psychology will be nurtured and extended across our membership through the direction provided in our newly revised (2022) long-range plan, created under the leadership of Past-President Barbara Andersen, PhD in collaboration with over 50 SfHP leaders and members.
The long-range plan, developed with a DEI lens, contains actionable tasks to move forward DEI initiatives, recognizing that increased diversity in our membership is essential but not enough. To ensure fidelity and accountability in implementing the designated action steps, each has been assigned responsible parties and schedules for review and completion. In brief, the SfHP aspires to attract and retain members that are representative of the population (diversity), ensure members get what they need from the Society to meet their professional goals (equity), and engage and support all members in having a voice (inclusion).
Listed below is a sampling of actions and sub-tasks specified in the long-range plan driving the Society’s achievement of DEI goals, along with a selection of brief updates on the progress made thus far:
- Action: Enhance SfHP protocols for addressing DEI
Investigate ways to identify members’ sociodemographic information, while protecting privacy, to help the Society address gaps or needs in member services and interests and to monitor progress in advancing inclusion and diverse representation.
To establish a baseline for understanding the diversity and interests of our current membership, a survey is being created with the assistance of Members-at-Large Elizabeth Seng, PhD and Adrienne Williams, PhD. With the approval of the Executive Committee, the survey will be distributed via Qualtrics, and the results will help drive Society efforts to foster inclusion, for example, informing mentoring matches.
Review SfHP documents to ensure inclusive language and commitment to DEI principles.
Headed by Stephanie Fitzpatrick, PhD, Member-at-Large, a team of SfHP leaders (including Marquisha Lee, PhD, ABPP, CBSM, Treasurer, Rashelle Hayes, PhD, Membership Council Chair, Patricia Moreno, PhD, Diversity Council Chair, and Tanecia Blue, PhD, ABPP, Diversity and Inclusion Officer) have reviewed the SfHP Handbook. Their recommended revisions will be presented to the Executive Committee during the upcoming March meeting along with a suggested framework for creating and reviewing documents, processes, and decision-making.
Additionally, Dr. Moreno, Dr. Blue, and Nancy Beckman, PhD (Diversity Council Member), reviewed the SfHP awards criteria and made recommendations promoting DEI principles.
On an annual basis synchronize DEI efforts across SfHP leadership through training of leaders and subsequent monitoring in discussions and review of reports/products.
Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Tanecia Blue, PhD, ABPP, organized a training for the Board of Directors conducted by Vanessa Hintz, PsyD, American Psychological Association Senior Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Engagement and Outreach on 1/26/23.
Develop pipeline/mentoring opportunities for emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds, through graduate student and post-doc awards opportunities, Congratulate your Graduate outreach, and inclusive member activities (e.g., publications and virtual programs).
The Health Psychology Connections mentorship program, under the leadership of early career psychologist Chase Grosse, PhD, is in the beginning phase of a redesign to facilitate culturally relevant mentorship. Sylvia Herbozo, PhD will consult on the messaging, strategy, and plan to reshape the program based on the lessons she has learned from designing and implementing a successful mentorship program for students of color.
Member-at-Large Stephanie Fitzpatrick, PhD, has begun conceptualizing a framework and structure for a Leadership Training Institute to focus on the career advancement of emerging leaders from underrepresented groups in health psychology. Dr. Fitzpatrick plans to put forward a proposal to the APA EDI Office and the SfHP Board, meet with leaders from APA Divisions 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues) and 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race) to determine if shared interests exist in creating such a training, and engage Tanecia Blue, PhD, ABPP, SfHP Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Patricia Moreno, PhD SfHP, Diversity Council Chair, in program development.
The Adolescent and Young Adult Interest Group, led by Jennifer Allen, PhD, has created an Early Career Psychologist Representative position to assist in the organization of a leadership board comprised of early career psychologists, with the goal of recruiting individuals from historically underrepresented groups.
- Action: Seek opportunities to advance DEI by developing collaborations with other units within APA
Formalize ongoing communications between SfHP and Divisions 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women), 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues) and 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race), among others by identifying liaisons or member representatives from both groups.
Stephanie Fitzpatrick, PhD, Member-at-Large is working to foster collaborations with APA’s EDI Office and other APA Divisions (44 and 45) in part via development of the previously described Leadership Training Institute for emerging leaders from underrepresented groups in health psychology.
In partnership with Division 54 (Society of Pediatric Psychology) the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Interest Group assists in updating the AYA training site database for APPIC listed internship and postdoctoral training, with inclusion of specific DEI rotations and educational opportunities.
In a related vein, extending beyond the borders of APA, the Health Advocacy & Policy Council, under the leadership of Chair, Kim Smolderen, PhD, and Associate Chair, Valeria Martinez-Kaigi, PhD, have met with the National Latinx Psychological Association to identify potential areas for collaboration.
- Action: Plan, execute, and monitor educational activities to:
Alert members to DEI best practices and success stories within health psychology through SfHP communications platforms.
The Integrated Primary Care Interest Group’s Health Equity and Diversity Subcommittee, co-led by Gabriela Gibson-Lopez, PsyD and Yaira Oquendo-Figueroa, PhD, in coordination with Barbara Ward-Zimmerman, PhD, SfHP President, is developing a toolkit of best practices for reducing health disparities and advancing health equity and positive health outcomes through integrated primary care. This resource will be posted on the SfHP website to inform efforts in various domains, including equity-driven and diversity-sensitive and -responsive professional development and training, program development, health promotion and prevention, patient empowerment, and evidence-based screening and intervention.
Document progress and challenges in research related to DEI.
John Ruiz, PhD, Health Psychology Editor-in-Chief, and his team have made strides in improving access to journal content as reflected by the newly implemented practice of featuring several free-to read manuscripts per issue. Additionally, to attract authors who want their work to be accessible and read widely, the opportunity to publish via Open Access will soon be featured on the journal and SfHP websites. To further improve inclusivity and accessibility, the March 2023 issue of Health Psychology will begin the practice of publishing Spanish language translations of all abstracts.
The International Research & Collaboration Interest Group, chaired by ShinYe Kim, PhD, is working to identify US psychologists conducting nationwide health disparities research as well as those who conduct international and global research. The goal is to highlight the work being done in underrepresented communities and by health psychologists who are historically underrepresented.
- Action: Develop strategies to improve equitable delivery of psychology service across work settings of health psychologists (e.g., academic departments and health centers, hospitals), including:
Identify and amplify culturally responsive treatments for implementation across clinical settings.
As our SfHP liaisons, Clinical Health Services Council Chair, Shawna Ehlers, PhD, ABPP and Clinical Health Services Council Member as well as Pain Interest Group Chair, Dan Bruns, PsyD, are working with the Interdivisional Healthcare Committee to assist in the development of standardized clinical screening measurement protocols that aid equitable triage to care and access to resources.
Develop strategies for increasing the diversity of health psychology service providers from underrepresented backgrounds.
The Student Advisory Council, under the leadership of Chair, Noelle Mastrili, and graduate student John Sy, is collaborating with the Diversity and Membership Councils to create an engaged pool of SfHP graduate student representatives on campuses across the country to promote interest in health psychology among undergraduate students. In addition, the Student Advisory and Diversity Councils are developing a proposal to create online ‘Brave Spaces’ for students, trainees, and fellows, particularly those of color who are minoritized, to facilitate the sharing of experiences and the provision of support.
Jeffrey Goodie, PhD, ABPP, SfHP Monitor to the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP)/American Board of Clinical Health Psychology (ABCHP), has assisted in spearheading the recruitment and mentorship of diverse candidates and members. Supporting candidates from underrepresented groups through completion of the board certification process is a priority.
- Action: Develop SfHP resources to provide members with health-related DEI information or opportunities such as:
Post announcements of funding to help support pilot projects and/or awards recognizing achievement in DEI efforts through SfHP outlets.
APA and member generated announcements related to funding and award opportunities that recognize accomplishments in DEI initiatives are posted widely on Society listservs.
Organize networking sessions devoted to bringing people together to develop potential collaborations.
In 2022 the Membership Council, chaired by Rashelle Hayes, PhD, began hosting ‘Welcome Wednesdays’ networking events for new and ‘old’ members. These quarterly virtual gatherings bring members together to learn about Society offerings (e.g., Interest Group options) as well as to provide opportunities for developing connections.
The Women’s Health Interest Group, under the leadership of Jessica Clifton, PhD and Kristina Hood, PhD, have offered virtual networking events, providing a platform for establishing collaborative relationships among members with common interests and the recruitment of new members to include increased representation of gender diversity.
What additional actions can we take to further ensure a diverse, equitable, and inclusive Society and what role can you play?
With your participation, we can support and sustain the activities described above (along with the numerous undertakings that have gone unmentioned), while further bolstering DEI values in the foundational policies and day-to-day practices of the Society. Whether you engage through an elected, appointed, or alternative volunteer pathway, such as joining a Council or Interest Group, you can help make the SfHP an organization in which all members thrive, maintain a sense of belonging, and are empowered to contribute. Micro-volunteer opportunities abound for those from any career stage who are unable to commit to an ongoing role. For example, you can nominate an award candidate from a historically minoritized group, encourage and guide a colleague of color to pursue a leadership position, provide DEI-relevant resources in response to listserv inquiries, offer to serve as a short-term mentor when a particular cultural fit is desired, or conduct a CE training with a DEI focus.
Although we can take pride in the progress the Society has made in embracing DEI values and enacting DEI initiatives, your leadership recognizes that more change is needed to deepen our understanding and appreciation of each member’s unique individuality, address biases, rectify gaps in representation, and foster a coordinated building of community. We therefore look to each of you for innovative ideas – big or small – to propel our path forward in creating a more robustly diverse, equitable, and inclusive Society, welcoming and supportive to all.