Monica Lewinsky says that a mental health czar should be appointed to the White House’s coronavirus task force to help Americans get through the pandemic.
“There’s an authority figure and voice that has been missing from the COVID-19 conversation since day one: a mental health commissioner or czar. In other words, a mental health version of [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director] Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci calls for racial and ethnic diversity in coronavirus vaccine trials Fauci says his mask stance was ‘taken out of context’ by Trump Ocasio-Cortez, Warren pull out of New Yorker Festival amid labor dispute MORE,” Lewinsky writes in an essay for Vanity Fair published Thursday.
The magazine’s contributing editor — who as a 22-year-old White House intern in the 1990s faced a media firestorm after her affair with then-President Clinton came to light — says the country needs someone “trusted who knows how to address Americans’ very real qualms about the threat of a deadly disease.”
“No matter the circumstances, virtually none of us have been immune to the anxiety, depression, fear, anger, and loneliness that’s been exacerbated or spread, just like the virus itself,” writes Lewinsky, who reveals in the piece her own trauma as the victim of an attempted armed carjacking in 2011.
“And, yet, there’s been little guidance that has broken through the noise about how to handle those aspects of the pandemic,” says Lewinsky.
“What would it have meant to have had this kind of authoritative expert — live from the briefing room — consistently telling the nation about what is normal to — here comes the F-word — feel?” asks the anti-cyber bullying advocate.
While Lewinsky notes that Elinore McCance-Katz serves as the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for mental health and substance use, she says the nation would benefit from “the loud, culturally relevant presence of an expert in mental health, preferably on the task force.”
In the age of self-help apps and fictional TV doctors on shows such as “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Lewinsky asks, “shouldn’t we be able to field a fantasy team of prominent, respected psychologists on our national stage?”