Community//

A Mental Health Pandemic Could Be On Its Way Says Journalist Lisa Ling

Lisa Ling And Arianna Huffington Share What You Absolutely Need to know

Lisa Ling talks mental health and finding a vaccine for COVID-19.
Lisa Ling talks mental health and finding a vaccine for COVID-19.

May is Mental Health Awareness month. What better time to talk about the mental health aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic coming down the pike as we speak. I had an opportunity to sit down with journalist, Lisa Ling, who hosts a new series, The Road To A Vaccine, which airs live every Tuesday at 12 PM EDT/9 AM PDT on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and JNJ.com.

The Road To A Vaccine addresses the process of developing a vaccine and the backdrop of uncertainty causing challenges among people (herself included) who have never faced mental health issues before. From her interviews with top experts in the field of medicine and epidemiology, Ling says mental health is projected to become a pandemic of its own with such aftershocks as anxiety, prolonged grief, complicated depression, and PTSD. But are we prepared to address this insult to injury?

Journalist Lisa Ling talks about her exciting new series, “The Road To A Vaccine.”

Ling was joined here by Founder and CEO of Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington, in a candid conversation about mental health and wellness concerns the pandemic has unearthed and what steps we can take to promote our own mental well-being during these extraordinary times and prepare for what is still to come.

Bryan Robinson: Lisa, tell me a little about The Road To A Vaccine.

Lisa Ling: In every episode we cover a range of different topics. We profiled Arianna Huffington as a guest on our last episode because she’s really spearheading the effort to raise the importance of mental health and trying to help front line health care workers. Arianna has devoted so much to help people improve and take care of their mental health. She gave the audience such helpful information including myself.

Robinson: How long will the series run?

Ling: We have a total of eight episodes that run every Tuesday at noon Eastern Time.

Robinson: What will viewers gain?

Ling: It’s an opportunity to be up to date with the latest scientific information. The show is about the development of a vaccine. We also incorporate information from the foremost experts in science and health care on the front lines to combat Covid but also to help us live healthier lives.

Robinson: Arianna, what was your experience on the episode you did?

Arianna Huffington: First of all, Lisa is such an amazing interviewer and conversationalist. The show is what our times need, a combination of rigorous science and heart. I loved the fact that the show included a lot of interviews with scientists, which gave a lot of helpful and necessary information on the scientific front. It also included a mental health front and what can we do in terms of our own stress level and daily life—an important combination.

Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO of Thrive Global, is a guest on Ling’s new series,
“The Road To A Vaccine.”© 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP

Robinson: Arianna, you’ve spoken about emerging stronger from the crucible than before the pandemic.

Huffington: It’s part of every conversation. There seems to be universal agreement that we don’t want to just go back, that we want to use this sign of triumph to address the growing problems when it comes to health, the skyrocketing increases in chronic disease and the mental health crisis. Address them now in ways that we flatten those curves, not just the coronavirus curves. Frankly, these are unsustainable trends anyway, and now there’s a greater urgency around health and well-being. So, there’s a greater willingness to take steps that we might not have been willing to take in more “normal” times.

Ling: I agree with that. And I think people, more than ever, are hungry to learn as much about how we take care of our own mental health, but we need tools to help our kids to get through this as well. What we’re experiencing is so unprecedented. There is so much still unknown about this virus and when we can get back to any semblance of normalcy. We were in a mental health crisis before Covid. Now it’s being felt by so many more people. I’ve never felt this level of unease before in my life. And people like me who may not have had issues with mental health before are experiencing things we’ve never experienced before. Having mental health experts guide us through these feelings we’re having and figuring out how to deal with these things is going to be helpful. It’s this rare moment when we have the attention of so many more people than we would have otherwise.

Huffington: We have been talking for years about eliminating the stigma of mental illness. Now it is so universal in so many different ways that everybody is experiencing it. Anxiety, stress fear. And we find it easier to eliminate the stigma when something is so universal.

Robinson: Add to what you’re saying the fact when we can’t control something as ominous as a pandemic, sometimes it helps to find something we can control.

Huffington: There are things we can control when it comes to our physical immunity and our mental resilience. We know that sleep is essential to our physical and mental resilience and our immunity. Taking Microsteps, as we call them at Thrive Time, incremental daily steps, can improve our sleep which gives us agency over our own immunity and resilience. The same around food. Can we reduce our intake of sugar and processed foods? And can we turn some of our Zoom and Skype sessions into walks using our phones while we’re walking?

Ling: Those are some of the things Arianna shared with us on the show. They sound like little simple things. But they make such a big difference. The idea that you have enough sleep so you’re not so tired to tackle the day. Or moving your body. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of the house because of all the restrictions, but you can still get up and move and perspire a little bit. My husband is a big gym guy. He needs to go to the gym at least four days a week or he becomes this incorrigible person. So, for the first couple weeks of this, he couldn’t go to the gym, and he has a bad knee and can’t jog. I couldn’t be around him. We were at each other’s throats. He finally invested in an exercise bike, and he’s actually really likable now. Just getting your body moving. It doesn’t have to be super rigorous, but these simple things do make a difference.

Robinson: What you’re both suggesting can help people see the water they’re swimming in and how important the simple things right in front of our eyes can help with resilience and recovery during the pandemic. Lisa, who else is in the series in addition to Arianna?

Ling: Every week we bring a scientist who is working on the front lines trying to develop a vaccine. We have a segment called “Vaccine 101” that is part of every episode. We had two nurses who started a massive grass-roots campaign to collect PPE for nurses and health care workers around the country. I interviewed a woman who is an internal medicine physician from Nigeria who contracted Ebola while she treated patients there. And now she’s on the front lines in New Orleans holding people’s hands through Covid. She was so inspiring as a woman who experienced being sick herself with another virus and the empathy and compassion she has for her patients now who are some of the most disfranchised people in Louisiana and how she cares about them. We’ve had a collection of inspiring people. Right now we’re experiencing such a lack of inspiration in this country and around the world. To the extent you find podcasts or listen to audio books or books written by people who inspire you. There’s a hunger to be inspired and want to do good. We’re hearing so much noise and vitriol. That ignites a flame in me. It makes me want to do better and be better. Seek out those sources of information that can affect your mental health in a positive way.

Robinson: What is the message you want to leave with readers having uncertainty, fear and despair?

Ling: I want people to know that we’re all experiencing this uncertainty and fear right now. But don’t be afraid to reach out to people. Right now we’re all stuck in our homes, and we’re communicating with each other via Zoom or Skype. But don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings and get it out. Don’t allow the anxiety to fester inside you because it could manifest in negative behavior. There are people out there who are good listeners and willing to listen. Seek those people out.

Huffington: And also to remember that throughout history people in very challenging and painful circumstances have been able to draw on that place of strength and resilience that we all have in us. And to draw from a lot of ancient wisdom whether it’s the Stoics, the Tao, the Bhagavad Gita—every tradition that reminds us of the eye of the hurricane. That’s not in anyway to minimize the pain or losses of loved ones but to draw strength. People respond differently depending how resilient they are.

Lisa Ling joins resiliency2020.com on September 10, 2020.

Tune in for the 8 episodes of The Road To A Vaccine, which streams live every Tuesday at 12 PM EDT/9 AM PDT on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and JNJ.com. Past episodes are live at news/the-road-to-covid-19-vaccine-live-video-series.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Natnan Srisuwan/ Getty Images
Thriving in the New Normal//

Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Misinformation Puts Public Health at Risk

by Michelle A. Williams, Vish Viswanath
Community//

Surviving this War Together

by Betty Ng
A Self-Portrait, The Financial District, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Photographer: Ajani Charles
Community//

The Implications of The COVID-19 Pandemic

by Ajani Charles (E-mail: [email protected], Instagram: @ajaniphoto)

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.