New Podcasts for Staying Mentally Healthy in Hollywood

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A crisis coach and an actor focus on industry stress, with guests like Weinstein whistleblower.

Given that the entertainment industry — with its egos and competitiveness — has its own unique set of pressures when it comes to mental health, two podcasts have recently launched geared toward people in the business.

In February, Mike Bayer (aka "Coach Mike"), who founded CAST Centers in 2006 and runs the sought after West Hollywood clinic focusing on treatment for mental health, addiction and dual diagnosis, started The Coach Mike Podcast, where he invites guests "who have overcome something and are willing to be honest so that their experience can help others." One such guest was Lauren O'Connor, an entertainment executive who was a whistleblower against Harvey Weinstein. “She is incredibly inspirational and talked to me about her path to resilience — how she dealt with her post-traumatic stress, immense fear and ultimately got back to a new normal,” he recalls. “Her story isn’t necessarily typical, but I think everyone can relate to having to get back to work after a massive disappointment or challenging situation."

The life coach, who has worked in mental health and personal development for over 17 years, has also chatted with Dr. Phil, who recounted "what it was like growing up with an alcoholic father, having to climb through his window to avoid the abuse going on in his house and how that translated into his resilience and triumphs." Bayer makes frequent appearances himself on the Dr. Phil Show and is a member of Dr. Phil's advisory board. Jessica Simpson has come on the podcast as well, addressing "the steps she took to get sober after having endured a childhood of sexual abuse and how she healed." 

And late last year, actor and certified life coach Greg Audino (Westworld, Jane the Virgin, New Girl) launched the advice podcast Optimal Living Advice, which is formatted as an advice column and produced by Optimal Living Daily. "Go against the grain of everything you're taught about succeeding in Hollywood. The narrative about never giving up and giving yourself over to the work is complete foolishness," Audino says. "I saw actors all around me tying their self-worth to their success as actors and make the biggest mistake of their lives."

Now based in Rhode Island, Audino believes that there should be an advice column specifically tailored for people in the industry, as actors "especially tend to carry an enormous amount of stress with them" when they are entrenched in the "put your head down and grind mentality." As he takes in questions from listeners to address their queries on "when to quit something and what it means to be a quitter" and "the circumstances under which to pursue a dream career," Audino sees his personal experiences in Hollywood tying directly to his beliefs regarding mental health.

“There are some common building blocks to a lot of our problems that reflect lessons I learned in Hollywood,” he says, like “communication in relationships, prioritization of relationships, autonomy, self-respect, work-life balance and the need for reassurance.”

As Bayer also views mental health as “square one when it comes to well being,” he says that where Hollywood is concerned, “the place to start is how to ask for help in the first place.” He notes that “the entertainment industry is like any other industry in the world, and I believe one of the most difficult to maintain good health within.”

Especially regarding the pervasive coronavirus anxiety raging in Hollywood circles these days, Audino encourages entertainment folks to see how the “discomfort that comes with facing anything like the coronavirus also serves as an opportunity to lean into that discomfort and become increasingly resilient toward it,” he says. “Acknowledge that this, like many things, is largely out of your control. It sucks, but you’re not likely to change that. See it as an opportunity.”

Bayer urges that in this time of crisis, “understand your fears and what gives you anxiety. Write it down, say it out loud,” he says. And then, “bring your toolbox with you. In the case of coronavirus, if that toolbox is Purell and a meditation when you start the day, then do that.” Ultimately, “you will never go wrong being strong and confident in what you need.”

A version of this story first appeared in the March 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.