As I write my first article as President of the Ohio Psychological Association, I first want to thank all of you for your trust in my leadership this critical year when OPA implements the new governance structure and explores new ways to help psychologists remain independent in Ohio! I am truly heartened by the OPA members who have volunteered their leadership for the board this year, and am thankful for the number of individuals willing to dedicate time, energy, and passion to OPA. We could not be the nationally-recognized organization without each and every one of you.
I also want to reflect on how important timing, opportunity, and openness to new experiences can be in regards to how we interact with the public. In graduate school, sometimes a message is sent that only hard work achieves results! Work diligently (and a lot!) on your dissertation, grant funding, practicum hours, etc. That message denies the reality of those who start at a different place in their lives with fewer advantages, and less privilege than others. Research also demonstrates that serendipity is critical in career path choice and personal development (Williams, Soeprapto, Like, Touradjui, Hess, & Hill, 1998). We all have the opportunity to find ourselves at the “right place, right time” and engender change in our communities.
Here’s one good example. I am, by virtue of my flexible academic position, able to have access to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook throughout the day. My goal as a psychologist using social media is to find 1-2 articles each day that have to do with wellness, mental health, human development, or other psychological topic, and post it on these sites as a way to educate the public about psychology. I had the fortune to see the article about the NAMI-Google partnership, using the PHQ-9 to offer a screen for depression for individuals doing a mobile google search for “depression.” My tweet was viewed by a correspondent from BBC World Radio News, and she reached out to me to see if I would be willing and able to participate in a radio interview. From the time of my tweet to the moment I was live on international radio was approximately 2.5 hours! I am grateful for my timing, the serendipity of the moment, and the opportunity to network with the media to give feedback from a psychologist’s perspective on this topic.
Collaboration is so critical in this time. We are all working towards the same goal of supporting healing and positive well-being for individuals, families, organizations and communities! While we may have different theoretical orientations, approaches, comfort levels with technology, and backgrounds, this common goal brings us together. Allport’s Contact Hypothesis (Allport, 1954) still holds true that individuals with equal status, common goals, intergroup cooperation, support of authority figures, and personal interaction can improve relationships between all of us.
I would challenge each of you to go outside your comfort zone and try something new! Explore one of the following action steps to collaborate and help promote psychology:
- Find one organization that has the same goal as you, and reach out to them with the goal of collaborating (e.g., NAMI, MHA, Red Cross, YMCA, local religious organization, senior center, library, etc.)
- Please let OPA know if you are willing to be a media resource, write a letter (as many of you did with the potential Board consolidation), call a legislator, participate in a committee, or lead an OPA team in a local walk.
- Become a Disaster Response Network psychologist through APA and help out with local, state, and national disaster responding.
- Be mindful and deliberative in your social media and public presence to create opportunities to educate the public about psychology and the role of psychologists.
- Rely on your psychological and scientific expertise to provide educational materials in various modalities, in numerous environments.
- And above all, do so in an ethical manner!
For more information, see these links: