Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky is urging the White House to add a mental health czar to the coronavirus task force to help Americans struggling amid the pandemic.
In an essay published by Vanity Fair, Lewinsky suggests the Trump administration has overlooked the need of a mental health adviser.
“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 Anthony Fauci,” Lewinsky wrote.
She noted there is a psychiatrist high up in the government.
Her name is Elinore McCance-Katz and she is the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for mental health and substance use.
She reportedly attended a cabinet meeting in May, but she is not a member of the coronavirus task force.
“We need the loud, culturally relevant presence of an expert in mental health, preferably on the task force. Someone trusted who knows how to address Americans’ very real qualms about the threat of a deadly disease,” Lewinsky wrote.
She continued, “Someone who can speak sense to a nation shuttered and shuddered inside—some of us alone, some with their abusive spouses, some with a family too big for their house or apartment, and many frightened of paying their bills and losing their homes.”
Lewinsky reiterated no one has been “immune” to the effects of the pandemic on mental health.
“And, yet, there’s been little guidance that has broken through the noise about how to handle those aspects of the pandemic,” Lewinsky said.
She acknowledged celebrities who attempted to create safe spaces for those struggling, but emphasized there is a need for a federal approach.
“We needed and still need something systematic, something broad and comprehensive and federal, someone with expertise who can guide us in ways that we wouldn’t necessarily think of or know of,” Lewinsky wrote.
She went on, “And someone whom we trust. Someone who might become so familiar to us that she or he would turn into a regular character depicted on Saturday Night Live.”