COVID-19 Mental Health Crises

In this episode of Functional Medicine Research, I interview Dr. Ron Parks in a discussion about COVID-19 and the mental health crises. Dr. Parks has written a new book “COVID-19 and Mental Health Crises” which we discuss as well as a variety of other topics that can help those afflicted by this pandemic.

The mental health aspects of COVID-19 are often overlooked with more of a focus on the physical aspects of the illness, medications, vaccines etc. As usual in the United States, mental health is pushed to the back of the bus with little to no dialogue or support for those who need psychological support. Dr. Parks provides a voice for those in need with his excellent new book.

COVID-19 Mental Health Crises

Full Transcript on COVID-19 Mental Health Crises

Dr. Hedberg: Well, welcome, everyone, to Functional Medicine Research. I’m Dr. Hedberg. Very excited today to have my good friend and colleague, Dr. Ron Parks, on the show. And we’re gonna be talking about his new book. And Dr. Parks is a respected physician, teacher, book author, writer, and mentor, with an integrative and holistic perspective. He especially trained in internal medicine, nutrition, preventive medicine, and board-certified in psychiatry. Currently, Dr. Parks is the medical director and psychiatrist for The Center for Spiritual Emergence and Katharos Sanctuary in Asheville, North Carolina. He has an MD from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in public health and health service research from the University of California at Los Angeles. He has completed specialty training and internal medicine at George Washington University, preventive medicine at UCLA, and psychiatry at the University of Maryland. Dr. Parks is a former assistant professor at the Albany and University of Miami Medical School, chief of internal medicine at the Homestead Air Force Base Hospital in Florida, former director of the Center for Preventive and Nutritional Healthcare in Baltimore, Maryland, and founder of the MacroHealth Medicine, a comprehensive and holistic consultative and treatment service, formerly in Asheville, North Carolina. Dr. Parks, welcome to the show.

Dr. Parks: Well, thank you, Nik. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Hedberg: Yeah. I’m looking forward to this. So, you’ve written a new book, it’s called “COVID-19 and Mental Health Crises.” So, we’re gonna dig into that. But before we do that, can you just talk a little bit about how you got into integrative functional medicine and psychiatry?

Dr. Parks: Well, that’s a good question. Actually, it started when I was very young. I think I write a little bit about this in the book. I came down one summer as a kid with polio. And it was very upsetting, of course. And I compared it to the current COVID crisis. Back then there was no treatment and everybody had been waiting 10 years, 8 to 10 years for a vaccine. But here I was, a young, healthy, athletic kid that suddenly was running high fevers and a stiff neck. So, I ended up in the hospital at a children’s ward. And back then the only treatment they had was more of a natural treatment called the Sister Kenny treatment. It was like a heat treatment. They wrap you in warm towels. And so that was my first exposure to, you know, what I would call functional medicine or holistic medicine. Though I had a sweat through it, but luckily, I didn’t end up with the paralytic form of it, but sometimes I do think I have some of the long…they’re talking about with a new virus, the long hauler syndrome. But with polio, there were some aftermaths there, and I think maybe some of the weakness I had some time in the legs and things like that might be from that.

But anyway, that got me started on the path of interest in broader treatment programs. But a lot of it came, though, from my being formally, formally trained in internal medicine, where everything was about labels and diagnosis. And I remember in training, I got yelled at by the pathology teacher because I looked at a slide and I said, “I know what this is. It’s such and such.” He said, “The secret and the art is you spend time looking at that, you get the full picture, you let it sink into you before you tell me what it is.” So, maybe he was seeing, you know, or trying to lead me in the right direction. But after working in more traditional medicine and you’ve seen my credentials, I mean, I would see some of the most rigorous formal training. I just finally decided to get out of it.

And actually, you know what, Nik? This is very, very interesting. I always keep up to date, you know, and I start my morning with doing some review of some current stuff. And I came across an article about burnout syndrome they call with COVID-19, and how that’s affected many academics and professional people because it’s so changed their lives, that it’s caused them to relook at themselves. And this article just snapped something in my head and I realized in writing this book and in telling some personal stories in there, I missed the most important one. And guess what that was. When I was an internist, you know, like that conventional internist-type person, one day I was seeing somebody in my office and suddenly, it was like somebody kicked me in the gut. I never felt anything like that. And it doubled me over the floor. And the patient was, you know, on the table and I said, you know, much of like…I said, “Well, you’ll have to excuse me.” And I literally crawled out of the room and I called my associate, he used cover for me. And he said, “Oh, that doesn’t sound too good, Ron.” I said, “Why don’t you go home and I’ll cover for you?” I said, “Go home. You kidding? I’m going to the emergency room.” So, he said, “Okay.”

So, long story short, it turned out I had pancreatitis. And I thought everybody was thinking it was for alcohol or something, but it was from small gallstones. But I was in crisis, you know, and I had to, you know, go into surgery and everything. And while I was in that stressful crisis situation, my life changed. I did a whole evaluation. And I said, “I don’t wanna be a traditional internist anymore. I want to see all the depths and breadth of things.” And so from there, I thought the solution, of course, was to go into psychiatry. So, I sorted in the residency with the right intentions and, eventually, I went from there into holistic integrative medicine where I really belonged. But that crisis situation is what changed my life. And in the book, I tried to bring that across, you know, that there’s a little bit of a raised stretch and a silver lining and sort of a place where, you know, crisis and tragedy can bring opportunity. I think that comes from oriental medicine. And just to end this little thing, I realize that I missed in the book one of the most important chapters, but don’t worry. I’ll write that as a new sequel or a blog, I don’t know. I forgot that most important experience. But anyway, so that’s a little bit how I ended up in holistic integrative medicine.

Dr. Hedberg: So, this book, you know, “COVID-19 and Mental Health Crises,” we’re obviously just over a year now into the pandemic. And obviously, there’s gonna be a lot of mental health issues as a result of this. We know that social isolation increases inflammation and can cause mood issues and affects the immune system, all kinds of things. And then you compound that with, you know, losing jobs. And I know that divorce rates are, you know, increasing. And there’s all kinds of these stresses going on because of the pandemic. And as usual, mental health is kind of pushed to the back of the bus, so to speak, and not a lot of people are really talking about it. I mean, there’s a little bit out there on mental health and COVID-19. But what is this… How would this book, you know, benefit someone who has been really traumatized by this pandemic or has…you know, family members who have been traumatized and people like that? So, who are you looking to target with this book?

Dr. Parks: Actually, that’s a very good question. And that triggers a whole lot of things in my mind. Let me just take the first thing that came to mind, and that was this is typical of the whole dimension between conventional medicine and holistic integrative medicine because a lot of people now that are having, you know, significant problems, and they’re getting deeper into it. And so they will reach out to help. And so where they end up and, you know, mostly what’s available is very conventional-oriented thinking and treatments so on. They’ll say, “Oh, this is COVID-related. This is related to isolation,” as I think you were saying. “This is related to the lack of being able to socialize or to get outside or…” But, again, they’re missing the broader perspective. This person or the people who are listening, I mean, they know darn well, there are other issues that need to be looked at. For instance, there could be a marital problem going on. And in the close contains of, you know, an apartment or house, it could bring this to the forefront, it could flare. And that needs addressing. I mean, it’s not diminishing the impact of COVID, but they need to address that.

There could be other issues. These people could have had prior trauma in their lives or even to the extent to what we call post-traumatic stress disorder. And that needs to be addressed. I mean, because when you have a new trauma, it just plays back on the old one, you know, because most people never really worked out those things. So, they’re more susceptible. So, anybody that’s going through the COVID experience, it’s gonna be a much broader picture. For instance, you know, we’re all interested in broader things like nutrition and all that kind of thing. And you were talking about inflammation of the brain. I mean, all these things were at work, but it’s not just because of COVID. It’s because of all the underlying things that haven’t been addressed in the past and they’ve just gotten compounded. So, again, this is a way of looking at it. And there’s just a bunch of diversity issues.

Dr. Hedberg: Exactly. Yeah. So, the vaccines are rolling out now. And I’m interested in, you know, the psychology behind some of the decision-making going on for individuals, you know, whether they should get the vaccine or not or if they’re anti-vaccine or if they think that the pandemic has been overblown and things like that. So, can you talk a little bit about the mental issues around vaccination and the issue of herd immunity versus herd mentality?

Dr. Parks: That, I love to get into that, because when we talk about that herd mentality, we’re talking about basic human psychology. And it goes deep into something we were talking about survival. And I always like when people talk about prehistoric times. When people naturally live in social groupings for their own protection, survival, and if you don’t fit in or you don’t conform to the group, you get thrown out to be eaten by the wild animals. And this is what drives, I think, conformity and so on. And the thing is, there is an exception like that, and I always like to talk about that because I’m always interested in biodiversity, you know, people that have genetic differences. And of course, I always think that those of us that are more teachers and academics know we’re a little bit on that spectrum [inaudible 00:13:49], some special qualities. But in the herd, let’s go back to the herd. Now, in that situation, if you had certain characteristics that were different from what we call this expression neurotypical, let’s say, a typical member, then they would… Sometimes, let’s say, they were physically stronger and bigger, well, they would be the leaders, they would be the warriors or the main hunters, the ones that do that. There’d be some people that, you know, seemed a little odd or different, you know, or intellectual in this area, and they might become the shaman or the medicine man, or there might be someone a little bit different, who might become the inventor of a new weapon. They might decide to put a rock on a stick or something.

So, those people would actually work and fit with the group unless they’re a little bit too off. I mean, if the guy that, instead of putting a rock on a stick, he was trying to put another person on the end of the stick, I mean, something really odd, he would be thrown out to be eaten by the animals. But to stay in the tribe, to have the protection of the big guys and the smart guys and so on, you would have to look, attend, and like the others. So, in today’s world, believe it or not, we’re still tribal animals. And if there’s something, especially, that threatens, your security, or whatever, you’re going to be a part of that group and that herd mentality. And if it’s a thought that you better protect your financial interests by, let’s say, you know, putting economics over being liberal or something like that, you’re gonna adhere to that philosophy because, first of all, all your information sources are gonna come from where you select they’ll come from, and they’ll be from within the group or related to the group. And so you’ll be very much influenced by the group culture and size psychology. I was always fascinated by sociology and, you know, the term enculturated. You run the culture of your group.

And currently, I mean, obviously, if you belong to, let’s say, one wing of the partisanship and if you listen just to “Fox News” all the time, for instance, as you’re meeting out, they have a certain, you know, bias and slant, you know, that’s pretty much going to be your talking points and so on. So, this influences people. I mean, this is nothing new. I mean, this has been present in the business world for years. I mean, you put out a message, you do messaging, and you try to find out what people are frightened of and, you know, you offer them services that will protect them, make them more secure, or they need a new type of something, a new type of hearing aid, or, you know, they are going to become your customer and part of your brand. So, I also like to get at those things.

In this book, just like we’re talking today to the people that are listening out there. I mean, it’s a very diverse audience of… There’s some probably very much into functional medicine, for instance, or there’s some that are probably very much into wanna understand the brain post-COVID or… But the book, when I wrote it, I tried to put as reach out to as many people as I can to be helpful. And for instance, I knew that some people didn’t like large discourses on academic information. So, I threw in some personal stories or actually made up some stories from my own clinical experience to make it more relatable. And also, I tried to give some key points, tips of, you know, what to do just from my experience or what other people have told me. Sometimes I get some good pointers from Nik. There might be some, but anyway. And so, you know, it’s diverse. And every day when I wake up or think about things that, “Gee, I should have added another chapter to it or missed out on that.”

Actually, we had this book all done and ready to go to press. And there was so much new information about COVID, the vaccine, which is… We go into that in the book. But then, actually, we wrote a lot of stuff. But most important for people out there, this book is about crises. It’s about what happens in times of major events. And I talked in here about some other things for everything, from hurricanes and, you know, it’s been major things that impacted people. I talked about death and warning, not just from COVID, but, you know, just the thing in there. I probably took a little license with the death and warning through in a personal experience about the death of my dog, about cat loss, which actually is pretty major. I mean, I once had somebody in treatment for two or three years that they lost a couple of pets, and it just brought out major, major depression. But anyway, Nik, I’ll ask your audiences. Was it just because this person lost their pets? No. No. No. The point is holistic, integrative, looking at all the issues. This person or maybe I had some prior traumas about loss and so on and this just sort of brought it out to the surface. And once it reaches the light of day, it’s some hope that you can really make some major changes. So, again, I tried to make this…I think in writing we call it evergreen material, which means it’s something that will always be of value, you know, as far as if you’re gonna put out some educational things, make it so there’ll be something that everybody can write to and something that will have some practical information to take home. So, anyway, that’s good.

Dr. Hedberg: Yeah. So, let’s stay with the herd mentality thing because we’re just…

Dr. Parks: Okay.

Dr. Hedberg: …really interested in this.

Dr. Parks: We’re not affected by that, are we, Nik?

Dr. Hedberg: We try not to be.

Dr. Parks: No. That’s [inaudible 00:21:45] to other folks.

Dr. Hedberg: Yeah, it’s getting past our own self-deception. That’s the problem. So, there’s a paper that came out recently in “Nature Medicine” called “Modeling COVID-19 Scenarios for the United States.” And they concluded that they found that achieving universal mask use, so which is about 95% mask use in public, could be sufficient to ameliorate the worst effects of epidemic resurgences in many states. And that universal mask use could save an additional 129,574 lives. And this was from September through February of 2021.

Dr. Parks: It’s true. It’s true. I’ve done the research. It’s absolutely true. But, again, it comes back to herd mentality. And just the way in this country, for instance, we have all the, you know, different political groups and persuasions, from very radical to very liberal, it’s almost impossible. I mean, why do we have the highest…why did we have, maybe, the highest death rate in the world? I think we’re getting… Brazil is baffling. Because we have this diversity, which is a good thing, but when it comes to mass squaring, I mean, short of our country being under martial law or something, it’s not gonna happen. Though, I think, some good things maybe are happening. One of the big influencer in terms of vaccine just recently came out under pressure to say, “My people, take the vaccine.” And then I think that that’s good. So, there’ll be some of that. And the vaccine itself is looking very good. I mean, as far as everything it’s doing, including, I just read some stuff that they think people have long hauler syndrome, it might help to ameliorate that.

So, these people…people have some intelligence along these lines, and I think more will get vaccinated. But I don’t know. I don’t know. You go out there and talk to people. I got to get an instant thing from our audience today and see what the diversity of points of view are on this. And some people have…you know, I mean, it sounds like legitimate arguments. And certainly you and I, I mean, we do… There’s a lot of things that we were against that were coming out of the conventional science and medical world, for sure. Yeah. So, that’s a tough one. And so how do we get around that? I don’t know. Maybe that would be the next book.

Dr. Hedberg: Right.

Dr. Parks: Actually, Nik, let me slip this in. One reason that I went from family medicine, internal medicine into psychiatry, because I had this idea that, “Gee, if I understand the mental health side of it, you know, I’ll be able, really, to work and help people more.” But it didn’t work out. And once I got into psychiatry, yeah, traditional psychiatry, I found out these people are just as bad. I mean, all they wanna do is label things and prescribe drugs. And I’ve seen, of course, some horror stories from that. So, that’s what got me into what I call integrative medicine and psychiatry. So, that’s a tough thing. But I’m gonna figure that out, Nik, and I’ll call you and let you know.

Dr. Hedberg: Yeah. I’m deeply interested in the psychology behind, you know, the individuals who, you know, knowing that in 6 months you could save 130,000 lives just by wearing a mask, I’m interested in the psychology behind what is it in the individual psychology that, you know, makes them so vehemently against, you know, wearing a mask and not putting other people’s lives at risk, you know, because if you have it, it is kind of a deadly weapon, so to speak, if you’re around the wrong people at the wrong time…

Dr. Parks: Right. Right.

Dr. Hedberg: …who have a lot of…

Dr. Parks: It’s all true. But unfortunately, if you’re convinced it’s something, it’s difficult… I mean, let’s talk about obesity. I mean, it’s sort of a lot of my early work in nutrition, obesity. And actually, that’s another reason I decided to switch into psychiatry and said, “Well, gee, I’ve been an internist all these years and nobody seems to grapple with that. It must be a psychological issue or it must be from a lot of things that I don’t know about that I’d like to know about.” And we still struggle with that. The deaths from COVID, there’s been a straight line linked to obesity and… But, you know, of course, there’s a lot of layers to that too, all the nutritional elements and deficiencies and these, and we know that. But in terms of changing people, you know, a lot of people, like myself, have been married for almost 55 years, they start out the first part of their marriage trying to change their partner. And somewhere along the line, they figured out, “No, that doesn’t work very well. Maybe I need to change myself a little bit.”

But I think when they’re… You’re talking about this issue. I think it has a lot to do with education. And I think what we’ve learned a lot is how we’re influenced by the same practices that businesses have used for years, large corporations to sell their brand and products. They’ve understood the psychology of it. The problem is, in our modern world, we also have social media, which even makes it more tactical and pervasive. And we’ve also seen where all these from the business has been weaponized to really get power and leadership and authoritarian type of stuff. So, we’ve seen that too, though. I go a little bit into politics in books. I was a little bit afraid to do too much that or name names, I was afraid people would come after me. Do you think that’s some deep-seated paranoia or do you think that’s…

Dr. Hedberg: You never know these days.

Dr. Parks: I didn’t want my brand to be canceled, you know, cancellation culture.

Dr. Hedberg: Right. Yeah. Well, there’s a great book called “The Courage to be Disliked,” which, if anyone’s listening and they’re worried about being canceled, that’s a great…

Dr. Parks: I love the title.

Dr. Hedberg: …primer. Yeah. Yeah. Essentially, the author states that true freedom is being disliked by other people because if everyone likes you on what you have to say, then you’re really not being true to yourself and you’re certainly not being honest. So, that’s a great one for anyone out there who’s afraid of being canceled or doesn’t wanna put something out there because of this culture that we’re currently in. So, let’s talk about… Why don’t you tell us some personal stories from the book? Do you have any that you can share?

Dr. Parks: Nik, I’m sharing this with I don’t know how your readers that are… I guess, one that I shared, and actually after I reread that, it’s probably minor to what a lot of people have gone through in COVID. But as a health care provider, when you get involved in the system yourself, it’s a little bit more obvious or dramatic or, you know, it makes you more angry, and all those things. But anyway, I tell the story in the book about my wife. And hopefully, she’s out of earshot here, but….no, I’m just kidding, who had to go into the hospital during COVID because she’s had had a history of some heart arrhythmias, which was secondary to congenital heart valves that she had replaced. But she had to go into the hospital on rather urgent basis. And it started out. I called the cardiology group because I somewhat know, from my internal medicine days, how to treat this and so on, but I called them and said, “Oh, you know, can I at least come in and get somebody to do an EKG to see what’s going on and all that?” And they said, “No, you have to go to the emergency room.” I said, “What? What?”

So, anyway, feeling a little bit privileged being a physician, I have to admit that I have some… You know, I marched over there and, you know, talked to them into doing EKG and… So, the cardiologist who was taking care of her, so, he looked at…never came to see her, but he looked at her and said, “Oh, this is bad. Let’s put her on a pill.” And then, of course, that kind of [inaudible 00:32:17.859]. So, we went home. And I wanna make this a short thing. But anyway, it didn’t really control her. And she passed out. She had a syncopal episode. Fell, and I thought she broke her hip because she couldn’t move. And this got her into the emergency room, a pronto. And then it was all downhill from there. I mean, we couldn’t get appropriate treatment. Well, I mean, just, we couldn’t get an orthopedist to come look at her hip because it wasn’t fractured. And she laid on the coronary care unit for days waiting for a procedure they call an ablation, which she went into normal rhythm with what they were doing anyway. So, she never had that. We went home.

Well, two lines, and I’ll finish it. So, we were terrified that this was gonna happen again during COVID. So, during the worst of COVID, we went to somebody that specialized in this in Charleston, who just was specialized in the whole type of thing that she had. And so we traveled down there, masks, and, I mean, terrified, we were going to get COVID and everything. And so all this, I reflect on, you know, all these elements that mix in with COVID, the background. And thank God she turned out okay after all that. And I say, you know, it’s not us. I mean, everybody during COVID or during these type of crisis situations, with whatever is happening in the background, you know, have these personal experiences. I want people to relate to that. And I could go off a little bit talking about things we could change in the medical system. And I did have a review by a very traditional physician. And he said, “This is all bullshit. This is all pollyannaish, holistic, integrative stuff.” And so I had a laugh at that because I figured that that’s what he…what kind of stuff he would say. But I go into talking about things like that.

And another point is, this isn’t… The book is not about COVID and…I mean, it does because it’s great background. But it relates to people that have been through hurricanes or, you know, other serious epidemics. And matter of fact, telling you my personal things, I have one… It’s toward the end of the book about the Holocaust. I had a family member that was swept up in that when they were a young girl. And actually, years ago I met them and it was… I mean, it was unbelievable that people would have to go through this, you know, wholesale slaughter people. I mean, it’s her experience, but anyway. And I made just the point that, you know, it’s life, you know, we come up with these things. And so, it’s another real personal thing. You know me, I could tell personal stories all day, but it’d be a lot if this was an interactive thing, we could talk to people listening and get their stories. And they’d probably say, “Nah, I’m not gonna tell that. He’s a psychiatrist. He’ll try to think it’s all…” No, I’m not that kind of a psychiatrist. And this is a difference between an integrative holistic person. They’re actually interested in everything and everybody and try to bring people out so it becomes, you know, a reparative growth kind of thing.

Dr. Hedberg: Yeah. So, you mentioned, you know, your conventional training and, you know, we have all these labels like depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, bipolar, things like that. I always tell my patients not to get too focused on the label of the condition, you know, whether it’s Hashimoto’s disease or SIBO or whatever it may be.

Dr. Parks: Exactly. Exactly.

Dr. Hedberg: Can you talk about how these labels, you know, might not actually be all that helpful when trying to help people?

Dr. Parks: Right. Well, as I said, you know, I’ve evolved, switched…adding more fields and trying to figure out things, you know, figure out, “Well, what does this really mean?” because I think the experience of many conventional practitioners is, they do all the things that they were taught to do and give this pill or, you know, give them this advice. Advice giving is always a big thing. And nothing happens, or, worst of all, people don’t listen. So, you’re left with that. So, labels are very limiting. And in ourselves, the way we label ourselves is very limiting. Like, “I’m shy,” or, “I’m not very smart,” or, “I’m a person that people don’t like.” It’s sort of, like, what we call core beliefs. And it’s just what we’ve been programmed or learned, you know, but if you can break out of that, then that’s the way to go. And I hope that I have some that… I feel if I had personally done that, at least I worked…struggled towards that. I mean, people are listening, how do you label yourself? What do you call yourself? What do you call your job and your career, your purpose in life? What name or label does that have? I’m talking about beyond husband, wife, functional medicine physician, and so on.

Dr. Hedberg: Yeah. It’s important not to get too attached to what we think of ourselves because that can change at any time. And why don’t… You mentioned advice. Why don’t we conclude by you talking about some ideas for people, some things they can do if they are struggling with the pandemic and, you know, they’re not feeling as well psychologically, emotionally? What are some of the things that people can look out for and things they can add to their life to make this a little bit easier?

Dr. Parks: Well, and again, in the book, I tried to give at the end of each chapter a number of tips. And I think after the… Actually, I unloaded a lot of in the first chapter. Just simple things people can do. But also, I think beyond that, you know, there’s a lot of advice you can get from your friend or people you’re related to or your cab driver. I don’t know people… Or I should say your Uber driver from your… If you’re in functional medicine, the person you use as a consultant, you know, you can… But at some point… And I overused bullet points in this book because it used be lectures, and I always used those slides, you know, with all those points on it. I think it’s just to help me remember, but I have a lot of, you know, those kind of things just to tip people off when they’re getting deeper into things than they can imagine, or when they have gone to somebody and they say, “Oh, it’s the pandemic,” or whatever the current crisis is, that’s the problem, or it’s because you’ve lost your job, you know, that kind of thing.

But if they’re having all these things going on, it might be a point where you might wanna look for somebody that’s a little deeper or holistic or trained in it, you know, just taking a broader look at things, the seed that comes up with what’s going on. For instance, when I work with people, you know, immediately they come in, I don’t look and say, “Oh, gee, this is what you need.” I listen, and we do it as a team. And usually from that springs up what the issue is. I mean, it could be, let’s say, a trauma when I was a young kid. There might have been some real disruptive things that happened, accidents, or even things like rape or assaults, or just being terribly bullied. And that’s your talking piece, they’d say, “Gee, I never thought about that. I never thought about that.”

I mean, that’s important. And if you do go to… In other words, find a good resource, somebody that’s gonna listen, that you feel listened to, that you can begin to work through. If somebody starts to give you advice or, you know, right off the bat or soon in it, they seem to be not very relational. And at the end, they give you a lot of advice or hand you some educational sheets. And I hope you don’t practice that way, Nik. But anyway, at the end, then think there might be other things. I had a great misfortune. And I’ll just end with it. When I was a little older, the work with somebody that was a leading retired training psychoanalyst from the New York School of Psychiatry, and actually, I had met him and we liked each other. So, he wanted to provide some supervision-wise working with challenging clients and so on. And I worked with him a couple of years. And he was like a mentor, Sam. He was like a mentor. I mean, it’s just a beautiful relationship.

When I left, because I was moving, he looked at me and he said, “I will give you one last clinical pearl, a very important information.” He said, “Never give anybody advice.” So, I walked out and I said, “What does that mean? What does that mean?” He was just good. It’s like one of those zen things. And I think I really understand what he was saying. He’s not saying not to be helpful or, you know, share information, but when that takes over, it’s the same thing as, like, where you label somebody, you know, this is it. And you approach with a very narrow point of view.

Dr. Hedberg: Excellent. So, the book is “COVID-19 and Mental Health Crises” by Dr. Ron Parks. And Dr. Parks, can you just tell everyone where they can find the book and your website?

Dr. Parks: The website is And the book will be published probably in a couple of weeks. So, it’ll be on all the publishers. It’ll start out on Amazon. So, if you go to Amazon in a couple of weeks, you will see it. Or drop me an email to and I’ll make sure that you get the information about that. And I will end by saying, love Nik, and he is one of the people that I consult and go to. But now I might have to go deeper into that brain inflammation from COVID. No, actually, I’ve read some articles, but, you know, he’s just a wealth of information. Interesting talent. So, anyway, I loved talking to you all. And try to be aware, wake up, and look for the wider essence of things.

Dr. Hedberg: Exactly. Well, this was really excellent. I appreciate you coming on and sharing your valuable insights into this. And I’m really looking forward to sharing the book as well. I’ve had a chance to check out, of course, a review copy. I do recommend it to everyone if you’re interested in what we talked about today. And so, thanks for tuning in, everyone. This is Dr. Hedberg. If you go to you’ll find a full transcript of this interview as well as links to Dr. Parks’ website and the book. So, take care, everyone, and I will talk to you next time.

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