Board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Gregory Scott Brown says health brands should pick up on peoples’ need for self-care during the holidays, in an interview with Jack O’Brien. Lecia Bushak discusses a new FDA pilot program aiming to boost rare disease therapeutics development. And Snapchat’s Botox activation on AR Lens tops our Trends segment, along with controversial TikTok prescription-med travel hacks and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s mental health advocacy. Music by Sixième Son.


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Note: The MM+M Podcast uses speech-recognition software to generate transcripts, which may contain errors. Please use the transcript as a tool but check the corresponding audio before quoting the podcast.

Hey, it’s Marc…

Well…I don’t mean to sound ominous when I say this, but the holidays… they are upon us. 

It’s an exciting time for many people in our audience, but it obviously carries a stress all its own.

Given that tie-in, we’re kicking off this episode with my colleague Jack O’Brien’s interview with Dr. Gregory Scott Brown, a board-certified psychiatrist, mental health columnist for a number of mainstream publications, and author of the book The Self Healing Mind.

According to Brown, whether we move calmly and confidently into this period and enjoy what it has to offer – or the holidays descend on us in their own anxiety-inducing way – is within our grasp. 

Brown also shares some keys for those in charge of brand messaging. 

And his take on our country’s MH misinformation illness is also worth hearing. As he tells Jack, perhaps more important than the advice itself is who and where we’re getting that mental health advice from.

And Lecia’s here with a health policy update:

Hi Marc, today I’ll be discussing the Food and Drug Administration’s new pilot program that aims to boost development of rare disease treatments.

This week, we’re talking about Snapchat’s Botox activation on AR Lens, a controversial Tic Tac prescription medication travel hack and remember former First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s mental health advocacy. 


you, Dr. Brown for being on the show with us here today, obviously our episode coinciding with the star of the holiday season, which is so exciting for a lot of people in our audience. But obviously it’s a stressful time of year and I kind of want to frame our conversation around that giving your background. Can you talk to us? Maybe I know that everyone talks about how stressful holiday season can be but when you look at it from people dealing with mental health issues, what are some of the more misunderstood aspects

of dealing with this time of year? First of all, Jack thank you for having me, you know, so happy to be here because very important topic so many of us are thinking about mental health, but we’re not talking about it enough. And so I’m glad that we’re having this conversation day. I say when it comes to seasonal depression one of the most common misconception is that conceptions that only happens during the fall in the winter months. It’s more common during the fall in the winter months. But basically what we’re talking about here is depression that occurs with a seasonal pattern so here in Texas

I live when it’s extremely hot outside during the summer. People are not getting outside as much. I mean we see seasonal depression that can happen even during the summer months.

I know that if I was down in Texas just knowing how I deal with the heat that I would probably also be unhappy and not in the best mental state. I am curious though because you talked about the fact that the conversation has really been changing our mental health and I can only say anecdotally over the past few years certainly over the past decade. It seems like there’s been a greater destigmatization how from your perspective as a professional have you seen that take place in terms of people being more open in terms of talking about mental health and seeking professional help. That’s an excellent question. So I think back to that

Sports Illustrated article that Michael Phelps actually talked about his struggles with depression and addiction I want to say actually came on either 2015 or 2016 and it’s hard to actually delineate when a turning point was but for me, I noticed that around that

Time I was in my first year of Psychiatry residency training and my patients were actually talking about how phelps’s Story coming out and sharing his story inspired them to get mental health treatment or to start talking about mental health a little bit or I’ve just noticed that since then over the past, you know, eight years decade or so, you see more celebrities more public figures more people in our personal lives actually talking about mental health and mental illness, you know as they would talk about any other topic and I think that’s so good for not only mental health, but for public health as well

and to that and I know that you’d highlight the fact that people have been more open but you know from our audience which are medical marketers for a lot of healthcare Brands. I feel like there’s always been Brands talking about it more the kind of if you’re not feeling well, you know, we’re there for you we have services and and not always greeting everything like it’s smiles and rainbows and unicorns. Can you talk about that from a brand perspect?

The two because I feel like a lot of people in our audience that their whole job is messaging could probably learn something in terms of hey, your audience is not always gonna be you know, happy all the time and you have to meet them where they are.

Well, I mean, we know that there’s a link between productivity and overall well-being if we’re not making time for self-care. We’re not going to be as productive. I think Brands and corporations are starting to pick up on that fact as well. You know, I run a center for Green Psychiatry, which is a small private practice. But you know, I I have people who work for me as well and you know part of that conversation when it comes to you know, does this person want to you know to work with us is you know, am I gonna have time for self care? Am I gonna have time to protect my own mental health? So I think it’s it’s an important part of the conversation and you know, I’m glad that we’re having it

and I’m kind of curious on the self-care front my colleague actually wrote this week. She covers a lot of like the tiktok and social media.

Ends, and obviously there’s a big overlap with mental health trends that we’ve seen in terms of people trying to find their own self-care fixes, but some of them can be I want to say troubling in a way but it it’s not in complement to professional help. It’s more of saying like I’m gonna do journaling or I’m gonna do my own introspection, which is important, but it’s not the same as talking to a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I’m just kind of curious your thoughts and when you see some of these social media trends as professional what that means for the mental health conversation,

that is an amazing question. So glad that you asked it because again as we start to talk about mental health more you do run that risk of people maybe reducing mental health and mental health advice to things that wouldn’t necessarily work in the, you know, severe cases and mental illness, right? And then you have people who frankly you’re not experts in the field or able to amass these very large audiences.

On tiktok or Instagram or other social sites to spread this type of information. I think we have to be smart about where we’re getting our advice but not only that, you know the person who’s delivering the advice, you know, I’m on social media. I’m on Instagram, you know, another, you know other psychiatrists and experts on there as well. But you know as a person who’s, you know, visiting these sites you want to ask ourselves. Is this a person who is credential right is are you getting this advice from a psychologist or a medical doctor or you know a license therapist is this someone who has seen patients, right? You know, I think it makes sense that, you know, if we’re getting information from a quote expert at someone who’s actually worked with the patients and the other thing that I would look for is any type of board certification, right? You know, there are people who are doing really good work on tiktok and on Instagram and

Social science. You just have to be careful about screening them and vetting them on our end before we actually take that advice.

And could you expand on that a little bit because I’ve talked to a number of hcps and even marketing experts who talk about the value of hcps being out there in social media. I’ve you know, I’ve seen your appearances on PBS news hour and and appearances and mainstream Publications. There is a value to being out there and saying like I’m not just gonna let a self-appointed for your case a self-appointed therapist or self-care expert dominate the conversation if they don’t have the credentials or if they don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about. I just I’m curious from your perspective of saying like I know it’s a lot of pressure. I know there’s a lot of misinformation out there but for my value for my patients, I kind of have to be out there. That’s why I’m on there. That’s that’s why

I’m on there. I mean the thing is a lot of it’s like high interest and mental health professionals will shy away from social media or even shy away from mainstream media, and that’s okay. I mean not everyone is comfortable being in front of the camera, but you know, I think

People who are in this field almost owe it to not only our patients but to the broader public to at least challenge some of the misinformation that we hear out there with evidence-based practices that you know, we learn about when we you know, spend your studying mental health and our various, you know Specialties and from the expertise that we Garner from working with patients.

We’ll get back to the conversation a moment. But first I wanted to mention GoodRx GoodRx hcp Media Solutions help Pharma Brands get to the point where prescription decisions are made find out how to put GoodRx in your 2024 hcp marketing plan. Is it today?

I wanted to Pivot the conversation back a little bit towards the time of year and the holiday season the stresses that come into it. I wash your interview with PBS NewsHour last year and you had made an interesting point where you had said that one there’s no shame obviously to going getting a therapy. I’m a therapy as well. I want our audience to feel as open and comfortable with that. But you also said it’s not a year long or two year long Commitment. If you’re feeling that stress if you feel you need to talk to somebody it can be a week or two during this time of year. I was just hoping if you could kind of explain that to our audience because I think that’s kind of a different Dynamic than people are used to yeah.

Yeah. I mean, there’s no shame and I went through a divorce last year. I spent six months if there and I’m a therapist myself, right? And so I think it’s important that we just, you know, get rid of this stigma that we assign to taking care of our mental health, right and the other thing that you know, I really want people who are listening to take home, you know, like you said, you know, just because

You make an appointment with a therapist doesn’t mean that your quote unquote a mental health patient or quote unquote crazy or that you’re gonna have to do this for the rest of your life. Right? I mean, sometimes you can think of therapy kind of like an oil change for your car. I mean just going in for a tune-up every once in a while. Some people will spend years in therapy. Some people do therapy for a couple of months, but you know, despite how long you spend in therapy. It can be beneficial and you can totally change your life.


like looking at that from a diagnostic perspective obviously of the body, but then for a lot of people in our audience, maybe it is, you know a car or something else where it’s like, hey you get routine care done all the time. Why not be able to do this for your mental health as well. I’m curious from your perspective. Like we said, there’s been a lot of destigmatization a lot of progress made on the mental health front. Obviously, they’re still room for improvement. Where do you see the greatest need? I know that there’s obviously a shortage of mental health professionals in

Entry compared to demand there is still the stigma aspect out there what you know, what sticks out to you on that front.

Well, I mean if we’re just looking at statistics here in the United States alone, they’re over 140 suicides on average every single day and the suicide rate among men is three to four times the rate that we see among women. So they mean there’s just a huge opportunity there I think for us to really, you know, pay attention to how we’re reaching not only men women, you know as well so we can start to chip away at those those suicide rates again, these conversations are so critically important not only for improving our lives but in some cases maybe even saving a life as well. Yeah,

and we’ve seen that from the surge in general obviously highlighting the loneliness epidemic that this country is facing. I know here in New York. We just named Dr. Ruth the famous Dr. Ruth is our loneliness Ambassador, but

Something that a lot of people are dealing with especially out of covid is this crisis of not having that connection the digital divide and everything and you know, unfortunately people either for reasons of being apathetic or just not having any resources to them take that option. So I appreciate you highlighting that and being on the show. I didn’t know if there was anything else as it relates to this idea of you know, the holidays are here, it can be a stressful time, but there is a before and after there is a you can get through it. I’ve said no if there’s any parting advice you want to give to our audience there. Well,

I mean, it can be a stressful time talking about the holidays for for anyone. I mean get giving gift receiving can be stressful something that my family adopted a few years ago is we just started playing white elephant during the holidays rather than exchanging gifts which took away so much of that that’s stress. So, yeah, I think that people can be creative with it and use the holidays as an opportunity to start start New Traditions. I mean, it won’t necessarily

Been overnight but you know might end up improving your mental health years down the line

Dr. Brown. I’ve really appreciated you being on here. I referenced it earlier that obviously I’ve seen you out and about on social media and on different media platforms for those in our audience who may want to hear more of your insights. Where can they find you?

So the best place is my website I’m also on social media Gregory. Yes brownie.

Awesome. Well, thank you again Dr. Brown. I wish you a happy holidays and we hope to connect with you sometime down the line.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a trained listener, call 988. Visit for crisis chat services or for more information.

Happy holidays Jack.

Health policy update with Lecia Bushak.

As many in the pharma industry can attest, rare diseases are often difficult to investigate and treat, and are riddled with numerous challenges – including difficulties in designing a clear clinical trial roadmap.

Now, the Food and Drug Administration is aiming to help address some of those challenges and boost the development of rare disease drugs by launching a new pilot program, dubbed START – or Support for clinical Trials Advancing Rare disease Therapeutics.

START will allow participating companies, or sponsors, to get guidance and advice from the FDA on addressing clinical development issues – from clinical study design to patient population.

Eligible companies must have products that are seeking to treat rare neurodegenerative diseases and are currently in clinical trials under an Investigational New Drug application, or IND.

The ultimate goal, according to Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, is to QUOTE “facilitate more efficient development of potentially life-saving therapies with rare disease indications and help sponsors generate high-quality, compelling data to support a future marketing application.”

This is the FDA’s latest push in seeking to accelerate developing rare disease products. Recently, it also published a Request for Information, asking stakeholders to send in feedback about some of the biggest challenges and knowledge gaps around cellular and gene therapies for rare diseases.

Companies hoping to participate can submit applications to the START program starting on January 2, through March 1, 2024.

I’m Lecia Bushak, Senior Reporter at MM+M.

And this is the part of the broadcast when we welcome Jack O’Brien to tell us what’s trending on healthcare social media.

Hey Marc, just missing the cut was the Federal Trade Commission’s warning to two trade associations as well as 12 dieticians and online influencers about social media posts promoting aspartame or sugary products without disclosing that they had been paid.

Recently, Botox Cosmetic teamed up with Snapchat to create an immersive, gamified augmented reality (AR) lens experience.

From November 7 to November 14, Snapchatters could play a game through the AR Lens that encouraged them to make facial expressions associated with the Botox indication areas. 

This was Snapchat AR Lens’ first execution involving a medical aesthetics brand using its interactive functionality to educate consumers about a product’s use. 

Given that we’re recording this podcast on the fifth annual Botox day, this initiative begs the question: is it OK for Snapchat to include a Botox filter on an app primarily used by kids, teens and young adults?

According to a report Snapchat commissioned from GlobalWebIndex, the app reaches over 90% of 13- to 24-year-olds and 75% of 13- to 34-year-olds in over 20 countries.

On this show, we’ve discussed numerous times how social media has proven to be detrimental to people’s mental health and wellbeing, especially for young users. 

Is there reason to look at Botox leveraging Snapchat’s technological capabilities and massive youth audience to promote its product as worrisome? Could it have a negative downstream impact on how young people view themselves and consider their body image?

you know, it’s an interesting one and it’s not, you know, particularly new necessarily because whether it’s Botox or the various Beauty filters on all of these social media platforms, like the famous bold glamor-filter on tiktok that was getting a lot of attention recently. We know that some of these filters are starting to show a negative effect on people’s mental health in one recent survey out of beauty and hairstyle app style Street 70% of respondents said they think beauty Beauty filters on these apps our negatively affecting people self-esteem and that’s particularly felt High Am

Gen zirs with 72% of them deeming Beauty filters bad for their mental health the survey also found that four and five respondents believe that beauty filters on social media apps have changed beauty standards so that we’re really seeing this influence, you know, not just directly from Botox but as a whole with a lot of these filters kind of creating these unrealistic beauty standards and people we’ve also been seeing a rise in cosmetic procedures in recent years with Cosmetics surgeons. Noting people are coming into their offices trying to get tiktok or Instagram face basing their desires off what these filters are making their faces look like so the moral question of whether Botox should be doing something like this, you know is it’s an interesting one, but it certainly not just Botox, I guess that is contributing to this

absolutely and I want to bring Mark into the conversation and just know for our audience that I did reach out to Snapchat.

Through their PR team and to an executive directly and they declined opportunities to comment for this. I I am curious mark because there is an argument that I think could be made on the counter side where it’s like we’re trying to educate consumers and we want them to have as much information about Botox or these procedures going into it. But again when you have a youth base, that’s that big on your app, there does become some sort of responsibility. I imagine of saying like should this be in front of this audience which is so impressionable which has study after study survey after survey is less. You mentioned talked about how these standards do impact their own body image in a negative way. It seems

I think that someone at the botox brand should answer to that question Jack, I think it’s an excellent one that you bring up. They obviously are looking for a way to commemorate the botox day and this drug which kicked off the category as they put it and it seems like the choice of platform.

Has some serious downsides to it give given a large demographic of you know, young people on there and until usha’s point about how these kinds of filters detract from people’s, you know, self-body image, you know, and in terms of another sort of wrinkle, I’ll bring up I noticed, you know, in sort of parsing the press release about this that you know, they’re using a Snapchat AR lens here for the activation and they’re allowing people to you know play this game that encourages them to make facial expressions associated with the botox cosmetic indication areas and they make the point that they are lenses historically have supported disease data awareness or included the Brand’s name, but not at specific use and this kind of gets us into what in the trade they call reminder ads which are ads that give the drug name but not the drugs use and the Assumption behind reminder adds is that the audience knows what the drug is foreign doesn’t need.

Be told but the caveat there is that a reminder at is not contain any risk information about the drug because the ad doesn’t discuss the condition being treated or how well it works. So that’s all well and good. If the drug is completely safe. We know all drugs have side effects, but some have boxed warnings and Botox has a warning about a distance spread of toxin effect, you know where the effects of botulinum toxin could spread from the area of injection to other areas. So it does have some serious risks and I’m not sure that I’m not a legal expert but some someone might have an issue with using a reminder at or you know, what is essentially a reminder at in an immersive marketing experience. So we’ll watch this one. Look forward to hear what the brand has to say Jack.

Yeah. I’ll keep our audience in the loop. In fact comes to pass for our next story as Mark mentioned at the top.

I stumbled upon a corner of TikTok called #MedicationHack after reviewing a video with the hashtag that promises to be a tip for traveling with medicine.

Earlier this year, TikToker @xxiamkristinxx posted a video under the hashtag #MedicationHack. In the video, she displays a prescription pill bottle, then instructs viewers to get a Tic Tac container and pour the medication into the Tic Tac container.

“Remove the [Tic Tac] label, take the lid off, and add your medication,” the text on the video reads. “Then just put the lid back on. Now, you can dispense your medication. And it’s a lot smaller than the pill bottles. Just ask the pharmacist for an extra label.”

This may seem like an easy trick for when you’re compartmentalizing items during travel. But a quick read through the comments signals a bigger problem with this particular “medication hack.”

Some noted that in many countries you must have the original packing and prescription [of the medication]. Others noted that some medication is light sensitive — hence the orange-colored pharmacy pill bottles — and putting it into a Tic Tac container could be risky. Yet another points out that a child will think it’s candy, deeming the suggestion “very unsafe.”

“I work at a pharmacy and we are prohibited from dispensing a label for medications if it is not placed on a pharmacy bottle/box,” another commenter warns.

But when you meander deeper into #MedicationHack, you quickly realize that there are far more questionable takes on medication tricks than Tic Tac containers.

One video with more than 35,000 likes claims to know “5 tricks to make your pills kick in faster.” 

The first tip, the video says, is to “poke holes in each [pill] side before swallowing it,” as this will make it “dissolve twice as fast.” The second claim is to “lay down on your right side,” which will make the pill “fall right next to the opening of your intestines.” Anybody with a brain could determine much of this as misinformation.

Other #medicationhacks include tricks people have developed to get their children to take medication. 

One video with 100,000 likes shows the process of crushing up a pill, putting it into a chocolate mixture covered in sprinkles and tossing it in the refrigerator to cool. The resulting candy would make it easier, in theory, for a child to take their medication – but also pose risks where a child or someone else might confuse the drug-laden candy for regular candy and risk an overdose.

And still more #medicationhacks involve syringe hacks, tips for crushing up and ingesting pills, claims to squeeze your tonsils to help a sore throat, and really endless advice on almost anything medicine-related.

Medical experts likely feel that countering misinformation on TikTok is often a game of “whack-a-mole” – once one trend is addressed, a new one has been born.

Of all the videos I came across in #medicationhack TikTok, I really only found one that appeared to be from a reputable doctor, who was offering sound tips on how to alleviate nausea. But that was one video in a sea of misinformation.

it reminds me of what Dr. Brown said in Jackson interview with him earlier in the show is that not only do people need to pay attention to who they’re getting advice from on social media, but also he called on mental health professionals to be more present in these plot on these platforms any kind of use the language that they owe it to, you know patients and to the general public at large to show up here and correct all these

Conceptions, you know what parent out there hasn’t heard the advice, you know that you can put some pills in applesauce. For instance. There are some tips like this that are benign and our have kind of stood the test of time so to speak that you might see in like, you know, Dr. Spock’s Guide to Parenting type of thing. But again, it has to you have to pay attention to where you’re getting that information from and a lot of these these tips here as you point out. Let’s just seeing questionable and they’re a lot more specious than just, you know, replacing the tiktoks Tic Tacs, excuse me with with your with your medicine that you’re taking so gotta be very careful here.

Yeah. I always just think whatever we go through some of these that less ship brings to the four like if you just think one level down the logic tree of what could go wrong or use just any ounce of Common Sense.

I don’t like you you think that you would just be able to avoid some of these things like you talk about less shit. Like if you’re crushing up a whole series of pills and putting them in brownies. Obviously, there’s a risk of somebody like overdoses and you would think that that would keep you from doing in the first place. But obviously this is something that people have encountered you also raised one too, which I was curious if you can kind of illuminate for us is like syringe hacks which some nurses or people presenting as nurses we’re talking about the platform those seemed

Super dangerous by comparison do you want could you just highlight that a little bit for our audience too?

Yeah, there is there was like a weird trend of a lot of videos with like tons of likes and Views that were using this like syringe hack to crush a pill using a syringe and then mixing it with some kind of liquid or water, I guess to dissolve it and I guess, you know some nurses use this trick, but there are a lot of tic-takers that were kind of Ambiguously trying this trick and this trend with various pills and it wasn’t clear what type of medication they were doing it with but yeah, there was a strangely large amount of videos using that syringe hack of crushing pills. It was a bizarre.

Yeah. I mean just just even the idea that people have syringe that normal people have syringes on hand to begin with you talk about the sterilization risk there. But yeah, I mean just concerning and obviously I want our audience to be able to travel and have a happy holidays and all that sort of

I know that it’s a burden we were talking with our producer before we hopped on here of trying to sort out your pills for if you’re gonna be gone for days or a week or something in a place. You’re not normally there. You want to have your your normal amount and adhere to your prescriptions and everything, but some of these things just seem to get so out of out of hand. I guess you could say and it’s you know, unfortunately, it seems like there’s not enough hcps or people standing up and saying like this is what you should be doing as opposed to doing this, but I’m glad that you’ve been able to highlight it for our audience. So hopefully for a messaging perspective, they’re more marketers that take note of this going forward.

Over the weekend, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter passed away at the age of 96 at her home in Plains, Georgia.

Carter, who was married to former President Jimmy Carter for nearly eight decades, is perhaps best known for her mental health advocacy throughout her public service career. 

While her husband served as the governor of Georgia, Rosalynn was a member of the Governor’s Commission to Improve Services to the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped and subsequently served as active honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health during President Carter’s administration, aiding the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980.

In 1985, Carter kicked off the Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, which held annual forums for more than three decades involving talks from mental health advocates about how to improve access to behavioral health services as well as address the cost aspect.

look at the Carters both Jimmy and Roslyn and the work that they did even after they were in the presidency and the White House on behalf of people not only in the United States, but around the world is very commendable and certainly hers on that front for mental health. I mean, it’s one of the first things that people and then mentioning in headlines other than the fact that she was first ladies that she was in advocate for mental health awareness and access to these Services across the country.

Yeah, you know, we talk a lot.

Out mental health awareness now, but you know when you think about the time period that Roslyn Carter was being an advocate for mental health when it wasn’t as frequently talked about and there were still a lot of stigmas around it it is, you know interesting to kind of look back on the history and how she was advocating at a time when it wasn’t really talked about the way that it is now so, you know, she really was kind of considered a transformational leader on that front and you know, always sad to see someone pass away who’s you know made a difference but a good time to sort of reflect on where how far we’ve come I guess when it comes to mental health awareness as well.

Yeah. I mean she took up the banner of mental health in her home state and around the country at a time as you said when it was the stigma a big stigma at the time and so she obviously deserves a big time Commendation for her work there. And of course with the act the

Health Systems act that called for more community centers and important changes in health insurance coverage that also to her credit and

Unfortunately, we’re still seeing a lot of health insurance companies not abiding by the law of sort of covering Mental Health Services. I think some have called for stronger teeth in that area and to hopefully that will improve as more people start talking about and start to go back to the Jackson interview with Dr. Brown. But he pointed out that you know, like Michael Phelps sort of cover of SI, you know about 2015 or so kind of was a turning point for more people to start talking about a more celebrities to start talking about now we talk about it as part of a routine part of our conversation, which is great because we all you know have our own, you know struggles with this and in one form or another and so but you know, I think the sort of the last step of this is that we you know, bring this full circle. We need we need proper reimbursement proper coverage. So but she’s the progener of a lot of that and so kudos to Roselyn and miss you rest in peace.

Thanks for joining us on this week’s episode of the MM+M Podcast. Be sure to listen to next week’s episode when we’ll be joined by Kiora Pharmaceuticals CEO Brian Strem. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!