What are the current frontiers in mental health? What are the major challenges being approached by the field today? For its July/August issue the American Psychological Association (APA) shined a light on big questions such as these, featuring a cover story in which “33 influential psychologists” were asked to identify “the critical questions the discipline must answer.” Among these influential practitioners was Douglas Haldeman, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at John F. Kennedy University.
Along with 32 other luminaries in the field, Dr. Haldeman was summoned to contribute to a type of roadmap for the future of the discipline. Topics addressed included seeking to identify cultural influences on neuroplasticity, overcoming mental health stigma, human/machine interaction, integrating diversity and inclusion into psychological practice, and developing creativity, among others. Dr. Haldeman’s advice to the field emerges from his lifelong work in addressing the intersections of various forms of diversity within the mental health arena and in the general public. His timely message to his peers in the field emphasizes overcoming social polarization in reaction to diversity:
For the community of sexually and gender-diverse persons, psychology needs to address the issues associated with the intersection of sexual orientation, gender identity, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability status, age and who we in the LGBT communities are to each other and the mainstream world. This requires an examination of power and privilege, and how we use our influence—and our unity—to advocate for the issues that are important to all persons of diverse identity. What psychology can offer to unite us as allies will be paramount in these times of unprecedented social polarization.
As a psychologist and activist, Dr. Haldeman’s classes, publications, and nationwide lectures emphasize the relationship between mental and behavioral health and a multicultural society. With expertise in sexual orientation and gender identity, men and masculinity, and the intersection of ethics and multiculturalism, Dr. Haldeman is dedicated to educating his community about diversity and the needs of culturally marginalized groups and healing wounds inflicted as a result of ignorance, both within the mental health field and among the general public. With over 30 years of experience as a practitioner, educator, scholar, and developer of social policy, his voice, work, and wisdom have already reached many. Now, APA offers his message to the field as a prompt for moving the discipline forward.