36 minutes | Jul 9th 2020

Pandemic Stress (with Vikram Patel, Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good, and Giuseppe Raviola)

Whether or not you’ve been exposed to the virus, the COVID-19 pandemic impacts everyone’s sense of well-being. Three scholars in the field of global mental health look at the various ways loss, fear, anxiety—and on top of it, a massive global recession—weigh on the mental well-being of different groups. And they anticipate a surge in demand for mental health services as a result of the pandemic.

Although the contemporary world has never seen the likes of such economic contraction as we have now, the recession of 2008 might be an instructive case. Vikram Patel, professor of global health and population, explains what is known about the mental health impacts stemming from that recent recession. Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good, a sociologist and medical anthropologist, gets inside the mind and experiences of the doctors and healthcare workers who are taking care of us (and it’s not necessarily what you would expect). And psychiatrist Dr. Giuseppe Raviola gives an unflinching look at what American families and kids are struggling with during lockdown.

The scholars also discuss the fraught state of mental health service delivery in the US, and advocate for adopting an approach to mental health services very different from the US’s hierarchical system of licensed specialists.

Finally, our guests confront the great disparities in the hardships this pandemic creates: in short, wealthy people are doing just fine and have all the advantages, while for others, the pandemic has taken away so many of the resources they once had, causing enduring stress.

Disclaimer: This podcast was recorded on May 22, 2020 when the US had approximately 1.5 million positive COVID-19 cases.


Kathleen Molony, Director, Weatherhead Scholars Program.


Vikram Patel, Faculty Associate. The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Professor, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good, Faculty Associate. Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Department of Sociology, Harvard University. For the past thirty years, she has cohosted the Friday Morning Seminar in Culture, Psychiatry, and Global Mental Health at the Weatherhead Center.  

Giuseppe (“Bepi”) Raviola, is a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist, and the Director of Mental Health for Partners in Health, a Boston-based humanitarian healthcare organization that serves ten countries. Bepi is actively involved in training contact tracers in Massachusetts through Partners in Health.

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