Welcome to Living Well with MS, where we are pleased to welcome Shannon Harvey as our guest! Shannon is an Australian journalist and filmmaker specialising in wellness, mental health, and optimising wellbeing for those with chronic conditions.

Watch this episode on YouTube here. Keep reading for the key episode takeaways and Shannon’s bio.

Read the episode transcript here

Questions and Timestamps

03:17 Can you tell us about your film ‘The Connection: Mind Your Body’?

05:22 In your film ‘The Connection’ you interview some of the top scholars on mindfulness and the mind-body connection including Jon Kabat-Zinn and Herbert Benson. Can you tell us a bit about their work and what you learned from them?

08:05 You mentioned that for your project ‘My Year of Living Mindfully’ (both a film and book) you tried out the science on yourself. How did that go?

10:01 Is there a big difference between doing mindfulness rigorously every day and doing it three or four times a week?

11:21 You've also written a book, ‘The Whole Health Life’, and have interviewed dozens of scientists and patients about living a healthy life with an autoimmune disease. So, what are the takeaways from writing that?

12:55 You count Professor George Jellinek as a personal hero of yours. Could you tell us about what it was like to meet George?

15:44 Could you tell us about your latest project called ‘What if mental illness was preventable’?

18:38 How can listeners find out more about your work and watch your films?

Selected Key Takeaways

Making lifelong changes is hard but worth it.

12:19 “‘The Whole Health Life’ is broken up into very practical things that the Overcoming MS community is already [doing]. Things like making sure I regularly exercise, get enough sleep, have meaningful connections with the people that I love, and [how to] nurture those relationships. Then, [it] talks about the fact that making these lifelong changes is really, really hard. The book is also about how we can apply the science of behaviour change to actually make [these] changes [so] that we can actually stick to [them].”

Professor George Jelinek shows that people can live well with chronic conditions.

13:04 “I met George (Jelinek) when I was first shooting ‘The Connection’. It was very much the beginning of my understanding of the many things that we can do for ourselves in order to live well with a chronic illness. He blew me away the first time I met him, because he was really well, despite everything. Despite his family history, despite his prognosis, he was just so well, and meeting him was quite inspirational because I thought to myself, ‘well, if, if he can do it, then he's like a living case study for me to show that I can do it, too.’”

Shannon’s next project asks, “What if mental illness was preventable?”  

16:53 “While I was making ‘My Year of Living Mindfully’, I learned that so much of mental illness actually begins before the age of 20 or 22, I think it is. If you develop a mental illness at a young age, you are significantly more likely to develop it again later in life. If you've developed it a second time, it greatly increases your chances of developing it a third time. So, I'm really personally interested in this idea of prevention.”

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Shannon’s bio:

Shannon Harvey is the multi-award-winning director of two internationally acclaimed documentaries, The Connection: Mind Your Body and My Year of Living Mindfully.

She’s currently working on a new film project while balancing her life as the mother of two adventurous boys.

Shannon’s career background

Shannon was the recipient of the National Press Club of Australia’s “Health Journalist of The Year” award for her first book, The Whole Health Life, which is about finding good health after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

Shannon has worked as a news and current affairs journalist for leading news organisations such as ABC, Nine Network and Fairfax and her latest book, My Year of Living Mindfully is published by Hachette.