Greetings Society of Pediatric Psychology!
Returning from SPPAC in Phoenix, Arizona I feel energized and inspired. It has been a long 3 years since we last gathered and with over 700 registrants for the meeting, it was clear that our membership was hungry to connect. On behalf of the board, I want to commend Emily Law our SPPAC 2022 program chair and her co-chair, Soumitri Sil for assembling a stellar meeting. Our plenaries highlighted some of the systems levels changes that are needed to support the mental health and wellbeing of youth (Margarita Alegría, PhD), how we can position currently underrepresented individuals into leadership through sponsorship and mentorship (Nancy D. Spector, MD), and how we as pediatric psychologists can be fierce advocates - now (Amber A. Hewitt, PhD). The programming itself was built around these key topics with many talks weaving in the patient and family voice. It was phenomenal.
There were many moments during the conference where I found myself not only clapping for the presenters but also for the individuals who stood up and asked poignant, thought-provoking questions. At one point (okay maybe many) I was moved to tears as I looked around the room and saw the faces of pediatric psychology. People of white, black, yellow, and brown skin gathered together working to make a difference in the lives of youth and families with medical conditions. SPP leadership has worked with intentionality to create an organization that fosters diversity and inclusivity, and this conference was evidence of this effort. But we are only getting started. As your leadership we set the tone, but we rely on each and every one of our members to help shift intentions into action.
In my presidential address I took the opportunity to lay out our 2022-2026 Strategic Plan and highlight active efforts within each pillar. For Membership, we encourage all members to update their profiles as we have updated the fields leveraging the ADDRESSING framework to facilitate recognition and understanding of the complexities of the individual identities of our members. Moreover, I talked about my emerging YouTube star status as we strive to increase communication with our membership via video addresses. Another opportunity for in-person engagement with our members will be at our annual Business Meeting at the American Psychological Association Conference in Minneapolis, MN in August 2022. This meeting is open to all members. We encourage you to attend this meeting and the APA conference. It is a tremendous opportunity to see the field of psychology more broadly in all of its glory. Our program chair, Melanie Noel and co-chair Thomaseo Burton have assembled stellar SPP programming highlighting our early career rising stars, you won’t want to miss it!
For the Education and Career Development pillar, I discussed the continued success of our webinars that offer FREE Continuing Education credits (a member benefit) and stay tuned for further information about the Leadership Development Course that is in the works under the leadership of past-president, Wendy Ward. For Science and Practice, I discussed the powerful impact of our Anti-Racism grants and am delighted that the call for 2022 grants is now out! Perhaps the area that brings me the most pride as your president is our growth in the realm of Advocacy. SPP has risen to the challenge to not only stand against hate but ACT against hate to support the physical and mental health of youth and families with tangible efforts in the realms of Anti-Racism, Gender Affirming Care, and the War in Ukraine.
I ended the address with an acknowledgement of the last two years. Many of us have operated as Pandemic Fine – noun - a state of being in which you are employed and healthy during a pandemic but you’re also tired and depressed and feel like trash all the time. We have felt the weight of the last 2 years at home as caregivers and socially isolated individuals, at work as care providers and trainees struggling with burnout and high patient acuity as we face a mental health crisis among our youth, and systemically as racial, ethnic, and gender disparities permeate every aspect of the pandemic.
But there is hope. We have demonstrated over the past two years our ability to be leaders in the realms of addressing health disparities, decreasing the gender gap, and improving youth mental health and wellbeing. We are equipped, we are capable, and together we can make a difference.
“You get one life. Live it in a way that inspires someone.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki
Laura Simons, PhD