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Josh Otusanya: “Mental Health Matters”

Mental Health Matters — Before the pandemic, my mental health was something I never paid any attention to. I didn’t think it was that important or something I would ever have to address or deal with. During this pandemic though quite the opposite has happened. I’ve had to adjust my schedule to take tending to my mental […]

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Mental Health Matters — Before the pandemic, my mental health was something I never paid any attention to. I didn’t think it was that important or something I would ever have to address or deal with. During this pandemic though quite the opposite has happened. I’ve had to adjust my schedule to take tending to my mental health and the stress of the pandemic more seriously. During the pandemic, I’ve seen more people than ever address the mental health stigma and help normalize the issue.


With the success of the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this difficult period in our history. But before we jump back into the routine of the normal life that we lived in 2019, it would be a shame not to pause to reflect on what we have learned during this time. The social isolation caused by the pandemic really was an opportunity for a collective pause, and a global self-assessment about who we really are, and what we really want in life.

As a part of this series called “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic”, I had the pleasure to interview Josh Otusanya.

Josh is a Nigerian American comedian, content creator, and social media influencer. He has accumulated over 3.4 million followers on TikTok and 220,000 followers on Instagram in one year. He performs stand up comedy worldwide including cities like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and even Scotland in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?

I’m a comedian and content creator/social media influencer. I had the opportunity to play Division 1 soccer at Bradley University and after graduating, fully immersed myself into the world of comedy, taking improv classes and doing stand-up comedy wherever I could. I began creating content online on various platforms (YouTube, Instagram, Quora, etc.) with little success until I discovered TikTok, where I finally found a breakthrough. I currently have over 3.4 million followers on TikTok and over 220,000 followers on Instagram.

Are you currently working from home? If so, what has been the biggest adjustment from your previous workplace? Can you please share a story or example?

Yes, so after spending some time in Chicago I had moved to New York City in 2018 and was there up until the pandemic began catching the wind in 2020. When things began shutting down I decided to spend the rest of the pandemic with my family back home in the Seattle area. The biggest adjustment for me is just the complete change in lifestyle out here. Since leaving home for college I’ve lived primarily in cities and have become accustomed to the city lifestyle. Fast-paced, eating out often, crowded, busy, etc. Now that I’m home, I’ve gotten to experience the suburban lifestyle again. Slower-paced, cooking at home, more space, cleaner infrastructure, etc.

What do you miss most about your pre-COVID lifestyle?

Living life without a mask, social gatherings and events with friends, and experience live performances. I really miss doing stand-up comedy again in front of packed audiences. These are all things I certainly took for granted. You really never know what you have until it’s taken away from you.

The pandemic was really a time for collective self-reflection. What social changes would you like to see as a result of the COVID pandemic?

The scare of the pandemic had many people looking for different remedies or cures or anxiously awaiting a vaccine. It reminded me just how important it is to value good nutrition and exercise habits in general. As a result of the pandemic, I’d like to see more people continue to place higher importance on good nutrition and their physical health. These habits go a long way toward developing a strong immune system and improving your quality of living.

What if anything, do you think are the unexpected positives of the COVID response? We’d love to hear some stories or examples.

Overall I would imagine that the world’s carbon footprint and pollution levels have decreased significantly. Fewer people out and about would also lead to less littering. I’ve noticed my relationships with people get stronger during the pandemic also. While the communication methods are limited to methods outside of face-to-face interaction, I’ve been checking in with people more frequently than before. I feel people have fewer things to distract themselves from checking in with one another now.

How did you deal with the tedium of being locked up indefinitely during the pandemic? Can you share with us a few things you have done to keep your mood up?

The thing that has kept me the sanest has certainly been creating content online. Creating videos on a daily basis with the intention of helping and entertaining others, while also working to improve my craft. I’ve also been exercising regularly. I usually run about two miles or so on most mornings to start the day. It’s a habit that has stuck with me since I started playing soccer and it has helped me manage stress and clear my thoughts.

Aside from what we said above, what has been the source of your greatest pain, discomfort, or suffering during this time? How did you cope with it?

For me, it was definitely the multiple social issues that transpired over the course of the pandemic. It started with the situation surrounding George Floyd up until most recently with the Atlanta & Boulder shootings. These events coupled with the frustration of living life during a pandemic were incredibly stressful. To cope with it I learned to moderate how much of the media I consume. I watched the news less and outside of creating content, turned off my phone notifications, and limited my cell phone usage. I would take a lot of walks, go on jogs, and spend more genuine time with my family.

Ok wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Keep Family Close — I left home at 17 for college and for the next 10 years I lived in Chicago, then New York, visited overseas, but never spent more than a few days at a time visiting home. For most of the pandemic though I’ve been here, at home in the Seattle area, appreciating each and every moment. It didn’t resonate with me before, but the time we are allotted to spend with those close to us is limited, so don’t take it for granted.

The Power Of Focus — After graduating, I spent years as a creative trying to make things happen for myself career-wise. Upon self-reflection, I realized I was too distracted. Too distracted by city life and city living to roll my sleeves up and kick things to the next gear. I realized this because, since the pandemic, all of my distractions weren’t options anymore. No bars, no clubs, no social gatherings. All I was able to do was wake up, eat food, and create content. It was this intensified focus on one specific task that I believe led to my breakthrough on social media. This was a concept I previously read about in one of Napoleon Hill’s books, The Magic Ladder To Success, where he talks about the importance of having a clear and definite purpose when seeking success in life. As a result of producing content on a daily basis, I now have options available to me that weren’t feasible before.

Technology — From helping us schedule a vaccine appointment to keeping us entertained, technology has been incredibly useful during this time. I’ve had multiple conversations with friends and family about how their occupations have already given them permanent work-from-home options. The pandemic has sped up the evolution of our dependence on technology to where remote work and remote learning will most likely become the norm.

Mental Health Matters — Before the pandemic, my mental health was something I never paid any attention to. I didn’t think it was that important or something I would ever have to address or deal with. During this pandemic though quite the opposite has happened. I’ve had to adjust my schedule to take tending to my mental health and the stress of the pandemic more seriously. During the pandemic, I’ve seen more people than ever address the mental health stigma and help normalize the issue.

Isolation May Be The New Normal — The forced isolation of the pandemic will change how society operates indefinitely. Companies forced into their remote work contingency are seeing the benefits (can hire talent from more geographic locations, less need for large office spaces, etc). Even if they don’t see the benefits, they will be forced to adapt as workers who are accustomed to this way of living will want an employer who offers this flexibility. Companies will need to adapt to attract talent. We will also see more people leaving expensive cities and living in cheaper areas with this new flexibility. I left my apartment in New York City and while I do plan to return at some point, I have friends who have decided to drop the city life altogether.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you during the pandemic?

“Two of the most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain.

This quote has been relevant to me during the pandemic because I really became one with my “why”. Through isolation and limited distractions, I realized just how strong my passion is for helping and entertaining others. The pandemic has been rough for a lot of us so the thought of being a light in someone’s day puts a smile on my face at night and energizes me every morning I wake up. It’s the reason I work so hard and will continue to do so when this pandemic finally comes to a close.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Dave Chappelle!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find me on TikTok (@JoshOtusanya), on Instagram (@Josh.Otusanya), or if you want to send me a note, email me at [email protected]

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.


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