March 23, 2015

Derner Has Much to Celebrate at Psychology Day 2015

by Rebecca Endres

Hakeem Rahim speaks about mental illness and stigma.

Hakeem Rahim spoke about mental illness and stigma at Psychology Day.

Psychology Day has become a much-anticipated event at Adelphi University’s Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies and a day to celebrate the Institution. This year’s event, held on February 24, 2015, included a commemoration of Gordon Derner, Ph.D., the Institute’s founding dean, who would have turned 100 on April 9, 2015.

The day kicked off with a faculty brunch and discussion followed by a keynote address by Hakeem Rahim, a noted mental health speaker and advocate.

“Today we’re going to break the silence around mental health and mental illness,” Rahim said to the dozens of students and faculty who attended his speech in the Thomas Dixon Lovely Ballroom of the Ruth S. Harley University Center. Rahim, who has struggled with bipolar disorder, discussed the alienating effects of stigma on individuals with mental illness. He offered ways to break down barriers and reach deeper understanding and acceptance of mental illness. “Diagnosis is not the end: it can be the beginning of a beautiful recovery and a new life,” he said.

“Hakeem’s speech really reached a lot of people,” Fallon Kane, an undergraduate psychology major and president of the Psychology Club, said after the keynote. “It brought a human element to psychology and we had a great turnout.” The afternoon continued with a group discussion led by Rahim.

Later, Derner Institute alumni led a discussion of career pathways in the field. The day’s festivities concluded with a presentation on the history of the program and its founder.

Derner Institue Professor Robert Mendelsohn, Ph.D., who worked closely with Dr. Derner, recalled his larger-than-life personality and reflected that Dr. Derner’s concept of a doctoral institute for training clinical psychologists was 20 years ahead of its time. Today, Dr. Mendelsohn noted, 50 percent of clinical psychology programs follow the program established by Dr. Derner in 1972.

Psychology Day’s various discussions and celebrations attracted a broad audience, including Derner faculty, students and administrators as well as undergraduates from across the University.

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