“Rocky Mountain High”

Pat DeLeon (former APA President) September 2016 Post

The 124th APA Convention, Denver, Colorado

denver-skylineDenver was a very pleasant convention. For most of us, the hotels were right across from the convention center and the weather was nearly perfect. One could take a new train directly to and from the airport. It was particularly nice to see Hawaii Psychological Association (HPA) visionaries Kathy McNamara and Jill Oliveria-Gray being recognized by their peers for their outstanding accomplishments over the years, as well as having the time to chat with Division 55 newsletter editor Judi Steinman and former HPA President Karuna Joshi-Peters. HPA Executive Officer Ray Folen was naturally ever-present – at times, in his role as President of the National Register. At one of the events focusing upon prescriptive authority (RxP), Morgan Sammons inquired as to how much money Bethe Lonning (who received the Karl F. Heiser Award) had to raise for her extraordinarily impressive Iowa success earlier this year. To the amazement of everyone, Bethe indicated that since 2011 they had raised $3,535.50. The key to their success was grassroots campaigning and believing that what they were proposing was important for the citizens of Iowa. Accordingly, Hawaii should be in a very good position for the coming legislative year.

Unlike last year at the Toronto convention where, at times, it seemed that the Hoffman report was of intense interest to almost everyone, there was very little discussion of it this year outside of the halls of the Council of Representatives. American Psychological Association (APA) President Susan McDaniel and Former President Dorothy Cantor co-hosted what I felt was a highly productive meeting of a number APA Past Presidents with the current Interim CEO Cynthia Belar and the Board of Directors, offering our collective wisdom and suggestions on a wide range of issues facing APA today. During one of the lunch breaks, the Black Lives Matter movement was quite evident and representatives of the Board and Council (Tony Puente and Jennifer Kelly) went out and greeted those marching to show support. Also, given the times, the Board hosted a meeting of leaders in the police and public safety community to discuss how organized psychology can best help. We know that psychological science has much to contribute in solving societal problems.

Meaningful Retirement

For the past several years, I have had the pleasure of chairing a panel on “Meaningful Retirement.” Our audience has steadily grown and this year, even on a Sunday morning, there were 75-80 present.  Afterwards, one couple shared with us that they had stayed another day just to attend. Ellen Cole, Rod Baker, and Walter Penk described their personal journeys and their successes in continuing to be involved in activities which they found personally meaningful. Ellen, who was Director of Alaska Pacific University’s Master of Science in Counseling Psychology Program and a former President of the Alaska Psychological Association, described being a graduate student once again and obtaining her Masters in Positive Psychology. Her recent books focus upon the unique experiences of female professionals. Rod is actively engaged in writing fiction books – two books of the Rune Master Saga and two books describing the adventures of a small town college English professor helping the FBI. Walter, last year’s recipient of an APA Gold Medal Award, stressed the importance of physical and intellectual stimulation, while continuing to help our nation’s veterans transition back to civilian and university life.

Just prior to the convention, my wife and I had attended a local community theatre presentation addressing the realization of four women that they were “getting old.” One actress commented that she had always known there were several generations, but she thought the oldest were simply born that way – not that she herself would ever become old. As Rod keeps pointing out: “If you don’t like what you are doing, you have only one person to talk to.” As the overall APA membership dramatically illustrates, psychology is a maturing profession and an increasing number of our colleagues are currently facing a new, and for many a totally unexpected, phase of their lives. Teaching, writing, and seeing patients may at one time have once been all consuming; however, the future requires change. Over dinner. Francine Butler, who for decades was the CEO for the Biofeedback Society of America (now AAPB), reflected as to how the two of us have developed virtual “villages” of friendships. Our previous employments allowed us to be in regular contact with colleagues all over the nation. However, as a direct result, we simply cannot have Sunday brunch with most of our long-time friends, given the distances involved.


The Past Can Provide Vision For The Future

This summer, we had the opportunity to attend several inspirational events held in our Nation’s Capital, including at the U.S. Botanical Gardens and the National Library of Medicine (NIH), honoring the vision and dedication of Nainoa Thompson and Bruce Blankenfeld representing the Polynesian Voyaging Society, as the Hokule’a continues its travels across the oceans on its world-wide voyage. Back in 1948, the World Health Organization pronounced that health is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Native Hawaiians, along with other indigenous peoples, experience disproportionately adverse health disparities – including educational and employment opportunities. The Native Hawaiian Renaissance, which is symbolized by the Hokule’a, hopefully represents an historical turning point. Listening to Nainoa describe the aspirations of his people, and especially those of the next generation, one could not help but appreciate the importance of the cultural/psychosocial aspects to one’s overall quality of life, including health care.

In April, 1992, Kauai’s Ruby Takanishi served as Executive Director of the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development when it released it far-reaching report Fateful Choices: Healthy Youth for the 21st Century. Ruby also served as a Congressional Fellow in the White House and for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye. She spent four years working on the APA staff, two of which as Director of the Office of Scientific Affairs. Nearly a quarter of a century later, the observations of that seminal report are still highly relevant.

Describing our national crisis: “At The Crossroads. The lives of children and adolescents cannot be put on hold until the larger social, economic, and political problems are solved. American youth are entitled to health-enhancing action now. To safeguard their health is not an act of charity. It is a reaffirmation of a humane society and an investment in the nation’s future.”

“In the 1990s, poor health among American adolescents has reached crisis proportions: large numbers of adolescents suffer from depression that may lead to suicide; they jeopardize their future by abusing illegal drugs and alcohol, and by smoking; they engage in premature, unprotected sexual activity; they are victims or perpetrators of violence; they lack proper nutrition and exercise. Their glaring need for appropriate health services is largely ignored.”

“Health professionals should be prepared to support the development of adolescents, to understand their problems, and to respond to them with much confidence-inspiring empathy…. Health professionals should aim to work with families of young adolescents.”

The major cause of disability among adolescents between 10-18 was mental disorders with depression affecting between seven to 33 percent of adolescents, depending on its definition, assessment, and severity. One must rhetorically ask: Have we progressed significantly over the past decade? The enactment of President Obama’s landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) does begin to respond to one critical recommendation: “Full health insurance coverage for all adolescents must include preventive services. Funding for such services as school-linked health centers and life science education should either be provided or obtained through the reallocation of existing funds.” Serving on Ruby’s Council were three visionary bipartisan Senate leaders – Daniel K. Inouye, James Jeffords, and Nancy Kassebaum-Baker.

“I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.”


Pat DeLeon, former (APA) President — (HPA) — September, 2016