From the CEO

Many of you know that I visit as many state psychological associations and academic psychology departments as my schedule allows. It affords me the opportunity to have more personal contact with our members and to learn about the remarkable work they are doing. Every now and then I come across an activity that I just can't keep to myself. Last fall I visited the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Psychological Association (KPA). The KPA Foundation has undertaken a project that is very consistent with APA President Dr. Ronald Levant's goal of "making psychology a household word" and one of my points of emphasis to increase the influence of psychology on the world.

Heads Up Kentucky!

This innovative project is called "Heads Up Kentucky!" and is the brainchild of KPA Executive Director Dr. Nancy Gordon Moore. The project is modeled on the hugely popular public art projects seen in many cities, featuring creatively decorated fiberglass animals such as the Chicago's "Cows," Washington, D.C.'s "PandaMania" and Cincinnati's "Pigs On Parade." Heads Up Kentucky! will feature approximately 50 larger-than-life fiberglass head sculptures, to be displayed at strategic locations across the Metro Louisville community. Artists will be invited to paint and otherwise embellish the heads in some fashion related to the theme to transform them into art. Each head will sit atop a nearly 4-foot pedestal, which will also serve as a display stand for health information, with a poster on each side covering one of 20 topic areas. A prototype of one of the heads is depicted above, along with Dr. Dennis Molfese, chair of the department of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Louisville and chair of KPA's Academic Committee.

The need and the message

The principal objective of Heads Up Kentucky! is not simply to provide interesting pieces of art for the streets of Louisville. It is designed to increase the public's understanding of factors affecting the health and mental health. For example, some of the posters address the fact that most of the leading causes of death, illness, doctor visits, absenteeism from work, and other health concerns are in large part linked to behavioral, psychological, emotional and social factors. Heads Up Kentucky! is a dramatic and creative way of reaching the public with these and other messages. As noted, on the sides of each 4-foot pedestal on which the heads sit will be a poster outlining health information for the public using easy-to-read bullet points and graphics.

Here are some topics that will be covered:

  • Psychological components of improved functioning for those with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other chronic illnesses.

  • Understanding stress, its impact on the immune system and stress-management techniques.

  • Psychological benefits of exercise.

  • Warning signs of teen suicide.

  • Handling work stress and work conflicts.

Other topics include the importance of early childhood stimulation; the role of sleep in overall health; successful aging; the impact and treatment of substance abuse; effective discipline for caring parents; and the health benefits of forgiveness.

According to Dr. Nancy Gordon Moore, the Heads Up project "was developed in response to a challenge from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop novel communication strategies to reach the public with health messages." She states that "by building on the immense community-wide appeal of accessible public art projects, Heads Up Kentucky! will reach both individuals interested in health and those who are simply drawn to see the art."

Future plans include creating a traveling exhibit using photographs of the heads and the accompanying educational material for Kentucky psychologists to use in programs at schools, campuses, museums and public libraries across the state. For more information, visit the KPA Web site at http://www.kpa.org.