In today’s fast-paced world, taking care of mental health is more important than ever. Everyone faces anxiety, stress, and tough times, but sometimes a little help is required to cope with life. That’s where mental health podcasts come in. These audio shows are like friendly companions that offer advice, stories, and support for your well-being. This article will explore some of the best mental health podcasts available. We’ll show you how these podcasts can make a big difference in your life and share tips on getting the most out of them. Let’s begin the journey to better mental health together.
What are Podcasts?
Podcasts are digital, audio, or video shows that cover a variety of topics from entertainment to education and news. They are like radio programs, which can be listened to anywhere anytime through computers, smartphones, or other devices. Podcasts have different formats; it can be an interview, discussion, storytelling, or more. They are an easy way to stay updated and entertained while doing other tasks, like driving, exercising, and doing chores.
Why do mental health Podcasts Matter?
mental health podcasts matter because they offer support and guidance to people dealing with a wide range of mental illnesses and emotional challenges. These podcasts help people understand a wide variety of mental illnesses, ranging from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD, and depressive disorder.
Here are a few reasons why you should listen to mental health podcasts:
- Accessible Support: mental health Podcasts are accessible from your smartphone with an Internet connection at any time of the day. In this way, they are like family companions that help you through difficult times.
- Destigmatizing mental health: Mental health and well-being has been a stigmatized topic and people feel ashamed or embarrassed talking about it. Mental health Podcasts help break down the stigmas by openly discussing topics like anxiety, mental well-being, self-help, and self-care. This encourages people to speak out loud and seek help when it is needed.
- Expert Insights: The best mental health podcasts often feature mental health professionals, experts, therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists, who provide invaluable insight into mental illnesses and coping strategies (2). It helps people learn important skills like managing stress, anxiety, and other emotional challenges, without having to go out on a limb.
- Real-life Stories: The best mental health podcast also includes personal stories from people who have faced mental problems and emotional challenges. It is comforting to hear such stories that people can relate to. It makes people feel understood and seen.
- Encouraging Self-care: Mental health podcasts emphasize the importance of self-care and self-love. They encourage the listeners to take care of their mental well-being just like they take care of their physical health.
- Improving Mental Wellness: By providing detailed insight, advice, and coping strategies mental health podcasts contribute to improving the mental well-being of several people. They empower individuals to take control of their emotional and mental well-being.
A study found that informational motives play an important role in podcast listening, and listening to podcasts is associated with positive outcomes in people (1). In the post-pandemic world full of stress, panic attacks, and anxiety, mental health podcasts offer a much-needed lifeline.
Qualities of a Good Mental Health Podcast
It is important to ensure that the podcast you are listening to is reliable, well-informed, and credible. The following are some criteria that should be fulfilled by a good mental health podcast (3).
- Content Quality: The content quality of a podcast can be judged by evidence-based information. The podcast should provide scientific and credible sources. Moreover, the podcast hosts and guests should have the qualifications to talk about mental health topics, psychology, psychiatry, and related fields.
- Topic Selection: There are two types of mental health podcasts. Some podcasts address a wide range of mental health topics including anxiety, depression, relationships, etc. Other podcasts have a more targeted audience. It means that these podcasts are specified for a particular group of individuals. These podcasts can be for people with bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, people struggling in their relationships, etc.
- Accessibility: A good podcast is easily accessible by the audience at Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, or Stitcher. The podcasts, website, or app should have a user-friendly interface that makes it easier for people to navigate.
- Engaging Content: A good mental health podcast has an engaging style to convey its content to the people. The host should be empathetic, and approachable. The part that includes real-life stories of people or other personal testimonials makes the content more relatable and inspiring.
- Regular Updates: A good mental health podcast uploads the content in a scheduled fashion instead of one that posts one podcast and then goes blank for a month or so. A weekly podcast with an episode on a pre-decided day works wonders. Consistency is the key to developing a rapport with the listeners.
- Ratings and Feedback: A podcast that makes the listeners feel included by checking the reviews and ratings and acting on sensible recommendations becomes more popular.
- Ethical Practice: A good mental health podcast handles sensitive topics with empathy, and sensitivity, and avoids stigmatization. They also provide information on where to seek professional help in case it is needed.
List of Best Mental Health Podcasts in 2023
Let’s dive into the list of best podcasts on mental health that fulfill the above-mentioned criterion and appear at the top of the list.
- The Hilarious World of Depression
“ The Hilarious World of Depression” is a podcast with a unique and humorous perspective on the serious topic of mental health, especially clinical depression. It is hosted by John Moe, a journalist and an author. This podcast is a series of inspirational and funny conversations with top-notch comedians, who dealt with depression. Guests such as Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Richter, and Jen Kirkman, have shared their stories of dealing with depression, and how they managed to laugh along the way.
This podcast not only normalizes conversations about mental health but also emphasizes that humor and creativity can be very useful tools for managing and understanding depression. The podcast is available on Apple podcasts.
- Therapy For Black Girls:
Dr. Joy Harden Bradford is a licensed clinical psychologist, speaker, and host of a popular mental health podcast “Therapy for Black Girls”. The theme of this podcast is to make mental health topics more relevant and accessible for the black community, especially women. Dr. Joy Harden Radford uses pop culture to explain psychological concepts and positive psychology.
Dr. Joy talks about self-care, relationships, self-esteem, psych, mental well-being, and personal growth, along with therapy and mental health stigma. One of the most important strengths of this podcast is that it helps destigmatize mental health problems in the black community. It provides a safe and judgment-free space for black women to talk about their experiences and challenges with stigmatized topics like eating disorders and body image issues. It is also available on Apple podcasts.
- The Mental Illness Happy Hour
The Mental Illness Happy Hour is an hour-long podcast hosted by the comedian Paul Gilmartin. It is a one-of-a-kind show that dives into the complex world of mental health issues, emotional struggles, and the pursuit of happiness. Gilmartin brings his own experiences, and his sense of empathy to create a safe space for guests to share their stories.
What sets this podcast apart is Gilmartin’s candid engagement in raw and unfiltered mental health conversations. He sometimes has darkly humorous discussions with various guests, ranging from comedians and meditation teachers to everyday people about their illness, addiction, and personal growth. Anonymous submissions to the show allow for open discussions on stigmatized topics. It is also available on the Apple podcast. This podcast provides a unique and inspirational resource for seeking connection, healing, and the pursuit of happiness amid mental health challenges.
- The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos Pushkin:
Yale Professor of Psychology, Dr. Laurie Santos studied the science of happiness, and she found that most of us are doing the exact opposite of what makes us happy and fulfilled. The Happiness Lab is a podcast based on the course that she teaches at Yale. Her class at Yale, known as“Psychology and a Good Life”, became one of the most popular classes in American history that year.
Her philosophy is that people might think what makes them happy is more money, a better life, or an Instagramable vacation, but it is simply not true. In her podcast, she talks about mindfulness, resilience, gratitude, and the impact of social connections on the mental well-being of a person. Her podcast is solely based on evidence-based strategies for happiness and it provides actionable conclusions that encourage the listeners to embark on a journey on self growth and personal discovery.
- Terrible, Thanks for Asking:
“Terrible, Thanks for Asking” is a heartfelt and emotional podcast hosted by Nora Mclnery. Nora explores universal experiences of grief, loss, emotional challenges of life, and everyday struggles. The podcast is a candid approach to the struggle of life. It acknowledges that life can be tough sometimes, and it is okay.
Each episode includes an interview with an individual who has faced significant problems, personal loss, or illness. The guests share their stories, vulnerabilities, shortcomings, and complexities. Nora provides a non-judgmental and warm space for these guests to open up about their lives.
The podcast helps the listeners to confront the realities of life and understand that life is in fact, difficult at various points. It helps individuals show empathy toward those who are suffering. It also destigmatized the feeling of grief and difficult emotions, reminding us that we do not always have to be OK. Nora’s podcast is a beacon of hope for those of us who are going through tough challenges in life. It reminds us that there is often light at the end of the darkest tunnels.
- Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
“Unlocking Us with Brené Brown” is a deep and inspiring podcast hosted by Dr. Brene Brown. Dr. Brene is a well-known scientific research professor and New York Times best-selling author. In this podcast, Dr. Brene holds the conversations that unlock the deeply human part of who we are as a person so that we can live, love, lead, and parent with more courage and heart. Each episode features candid conversations with different guests, including researchers, authors, influencers, and experts in various fields. These discussions delve into topics, such as shame, resilience, guilt, leadership, and relationships, and offer valuable insights for navigating life.
Dr. Brown provides a very warm and relatable environment to the guests, which makes them comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities and inspiring stories. This podcast offers a space for deep inner reflection and personal growth, encouraging the listeners to embrace their imperfections and develop an understanding of themselves and those around them. This podcast helps people live a more authentic life and feel better about daily challenges.
- Where Should We Begin
“Where Should We Begin” is a podcast hosted by Esther Perel, a renowned psychotherapist and author. This podcast is a unique experience because it provides the listeners with a glimpse into real couples therapy sessions. Esther Perel is well known for her expertise in relationships and intimacy. She provides an unfiltered look at the complex dynamics of an intimate relationship and connection.
In each episode, Esther invites listeners to observe a counseling session with a couple facing a particular challenge; the challenge can range from infidelity and communication issues to family dynamics. This experience of another human life offers valuable insight into a collective human experience, the complexity of love, and the intricate balance between relationships. Esther provides a compassionate and non-judgmental safe space for couples to explore emotions and vulnerabilities. This podcast allows people to reflect on their relationships, and gain a deeper perspective on the challenges that they might face in the future.
- We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle
“We Can Do Hard Things” is a podcast hosted by Glennon Doyle who is a best-selling author, public speaker, and activist. The idea of the podcast is rooted in the perspective that people have the strength and resilience to face most of life’s challenging moments. Each episode delves into a variety of topics ranging from mental health to social justice. Glennon along with her sister and co-host, Amanda, and best friend Abby engages in candid and heartfelt discussions mostly from their personal experiences.
The podcast provides a space where vulnerability is celebrated, and listeners are encouraged to embrace those imperfections. It is a source of encouragement for those who are seeking resilience, connection, and personal growth in the face of life’s inevitable hardships.
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Happier with Gretchen Rubin is a very famous podcast available on Apple podcast hosted by Gretchen Rubin. The podcast is dedicated to exploring strategies and tips for living a happier life. Gretchen Rubin is a best-selling author and a happiness mental health expert. She discusses practical and relatable topics, and ideas for boosting happiness, and well-being with her sister and co-host, Elizabeth Craft. The podcast covers topics like habits, productivity, relationships, and personal growth. Gretchen Rubin draws from her own experiences, research, and her books including “The Happiness Project” and “The Four Tendencies”.
This podcast is known for being informative and relatable. The episodes are short, making it easy to fit into a busy schedule.
To Sum Up
Podcasts are a medium for education, entertainment, and personal growth. They offer a diversity of content from mental health and well-being to humor and human connection. Whether it is the candid discussions on a person’s mental health in “The Hilarious World of Depression”, or the intimate glimpses into real life, relationships, and intimacy in “Where Should We Begin”, podcasts have a remarkable ability to educate and inspire the community. Podcasts have played an inspiring role in destigmatizing mental health concerns.
- Tobin, S. J., & Guadagno, R. E. (2022). Why people listen: Motivations and outcomes of podcast listening. PloS one, 17(4), e0265806. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0265806
- Wills, C.D. Using mental health Podcasts for Public Education. Acad Psychiatry 44, 621–623 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40596-020-01268-z
- Lin, M., Thoma, B., Trueger, N. S., Ankel, F., Sherbino, J., & Chan, T. (2015). Quality indicators for blogs and podcasts used in medical education: modified Delphi consensus recommendations by an international cohort of health professions educators. Postgraduate medical journal, 91(1080), 546–550. https://doi.org/10.1136/postgradmedj-2014-133230