Home / Mental Health / StarTalk Podcast: COVID-19 and Mental Health, with Neil deGrasse Tyson

StarTalk Podcast: COVID-19 and Mental Health, with Neil deGrasse Tyson

On this episode of StarTalk Radio, we’re continuing our series of episodes covering the current COVID-19 pandemic. On this edition, Neil deGrasse Tyson is joined by comic co-host Chuck Nice and neuroscientist Heather Berlin, PhD to explore the relationship between the pandemic and mental health.

How has the human condition adapted to the pandemic? Heather tells us why a certain subset of people previously suffering from OCD have gotten better. We investigate the rise in social anxiety and whether that will stay present after the situation has improved. We also examine why people are pushing against safety regulations and the quarantine. We compare the way a collective society works opposed to an individualistic society.

Then, it’s time to dive into fan-submitted Cosmic Queries. Find out of there are positive effects on mental health during this state. Neil tells us about Isaac Newton’s isolation from a plague that resulted in important discoveries in gravity. Heather discusses the increased role of mental health professionals. But that begs the question from Neil, how much training can a mental health professional have to prepare for a pandemic?

You’ll learn more about the importance of sunlight during times of quarantine, especially for those living where their homes might not receive a lot of daily light. Heather explains how your pre-existing personality shapes how you respond to the current environmental circumstances. We ponder if there will be a rise in agoraphobia once society fully opens up.

In our last segment, StarTalk Sports Edition co-host Gary O’Reilly joins our trio to discuss how athletes are dealing with being in quarantine. How can athletes retain their super-fast mental processing speeds while not competing? And, as sporting leagues start to play again, how will players react to playing in front of empty stadiums? We ponder whether sports might be less aggressive or competitive without fans present to watch in person. All that, plus, we debate how long sports has to be sidelined in order for people to lose interest.

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About the prints that flank Neil in this video:
“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, https://inuit.com/

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About StarTalk:
Science meets pop culture on StarTalk! Astrophysicist & Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson, his comic co-hosts, guest celebrities & scientists discuss astronomy, physics, and everything else about life in the universe. Keep Looking Up!

#StarTalk #NeildeGrasseTyson


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  1. I could actually enjoy quarantine if I wasn't constantly reminded that Biff Tannen is still commander in chief of the world's most destructive military machine. The fact that he is still at 45% in polls isn't helping either.

  2. well i discovered the spacetron , genesis particle

  3. Please no more Heather on startalk

  4. NDT truly is the greatest scientific genius of the 21st century. A mind of such staggering brilliance that the average person cannot comprehend it.

  5. Almost everyone of my friends and me love the quarantine. So much the me to do things like follow this star talk conversation coz I have time in hand. And most of us are gamers.

  6. If I hear "potential" threat, come out of her mouth one last time, I may very well just blink out of existence. Just because there are manageable ways to cope with mental illness & trauma in life does not mean that fight or flight only applies in situations where no threat exists. Otherwise- why would we have adapted various mental defense mechanisms? Coping skills vary in effectiveness, based on personal self control, the external circumstances, and time available to execute them effectively. Nature has already made the answer to this clear. An ability to intellectualize our emotions does not equate to reality. As Heather stated, yet does not address that attitude has only partial bearing on eliminating real threats. The resulting helplessness of experiencing continued real threats, rather than spontaneous fight or flight, is in and of itself a driver for chaos. This pressure on more and more individuals with less experience with that fear is a volatile mixture. Couple in that this applies within a society largely ignorant to recognizing individuals who experience repeated survival situations(as well as countries around the world who experience chronic hardship.) If this is the perfect storm to create entropy, should we not all be kind of collectively focused on building our humanity & demonstrating compassion? Rather than drawing focus to just the benefits, should it not be the obligation of our scientists and doctors to be forthright about the negatives? To provide both sides of the data for others to utilize in the best ways possible? I really do appreciate the balanced reasoning you continued to maintain though. Especially with questions on demand, for a busy mom who surely desires more coffee and a nap. Thank you for giving me my "learn something new every day"

  7. They finally had a break through as I had a mental break during Covid for my trauma induced bipolar and ADHD in February. I lost everything, homeless, relationships and kids. I dived into fixing myself but also to my passion on metrology and physics. I’m traveling and conducting physical experiments in nature like we did in labs in HS. Don’t know where this will take me but the thirst to broaden my knowledge is driving me.

  8. Inventors of our simulation, reporting from the moon

  9. i think that mental health is a conspiracy theory; its also boring

  10. 14:08 to 14:39 State control over individual citizens' lives and the social/psychological wellbeing of its culture has been under the disguise of something like telehealth for a while now, but without medical ethics, actually being a desired legal assistance to the person they are attempting to control, or adherence to legal frameworks. It comes from an altruistic assumption which cannot be explained, just as many dysfunctional forms of veiled social framing are.

  11. The guy that loved quarantine isn't resilient. He just lives off of someone or off the government and plays videogames all day etc. loll

  12. I am recently off of all of my meds, I've gone home, living under the shelter of my beliefs.
    Read into this statement as you will.

  13. Chuck's microphone is awful.

  14. The joke about agoraphobia and claustrophobia was priceless! 😂

  15. Covid 19 is a virus. No vaccine yet. Stay home.

  16. Heather Berlin is smoking hot!

  17. I would love to see Greg Salmieri (philosopher) on the podcast. He's a lot of ideas about covid-19 and individualism.

  18. WTH?!! Way too many interruptions with commercials!

  19. coronaverse 😜😜😜😜😅😅😂😂😂😂

  20. This forceful quarantine was the best thing that happened to my mind, I feel like a recharged battery 🥰

  21. Hey Neil, how much does the heaviest city on Earth weigh, and what would the effects be of that much weight being shifted around on the surface of a partially fluid planet such as Earth??

  22. Heather Berlin, you’re Awesome.

  23. Chuck, you need a better mic.

  24. my mental health is way up because now I don't spend 3h on public transport thus I spend 3h more with my friends online.

  25. Peopling is hard. Quarantine is easy.

  26. I would love to see Neil and Mark Robert have a conversation. Two great minds

  27. 76 mentally ill tin foilers disliked this!

  28. comercials are killin this …fu yt!

  29. done reading Reflections on the Color of My Skin

    By Neil deGrasse Tyson

    an avid fan from the Philippines. love you sir. love your brain, love the way you speak. Thank you sir neil. Hope everything will go back in place, in your place. If the world allowed us to vote for a 1 world president, I will convince all my family to vote for you.. I promize.

  30. Why is it that after having listen Startalk or world's great minds other shows considered in my mind are hugely less usefull or even useless?
    Specially football? Football is just composed of lezer, plastic, oxigyne, 22 players + refrees, treners and piece of land with goal polls. Other curocity is that why football has huge followers than world moving science and scientists? Is our human world is heading to the wrong path?

  31. 10:23 shabbat, for some I understand having the right focus may give you the chance to get the thoughts together.

  32. There you go Chuck e cheese yell into your low quality mic during a normal conversation. And for what? A lame joke? Man I wish you would pick almost anybody else to co host.

  33. Curious to see NDT's take on the protests.

  34. Are humans born to look at animals as food? Or has every human ever learned it from their parents?

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