6 Podcasts That Talk Honestly About Mental Health (Without Being Too Heavy)

By: Desi Rottman

Sometimes serious topics need a humorous outlet

Content warning: depression, anxiety, suicide, addiction

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There’s a podcast for everything now, it seems like, with more and more popping up every day. It’s easy to understand why: listening to podcasts is a way to engage your brain during a daily commute, distract yourself during a workout, or stay up-to-date on news (running it through a filter of your choice.) From comedy to quiz shows to music to interviews, there’s a podcast for every genre. Check out six of our favorite podcasts covering all things mental health!

The Hilarious World of Depression: Is depression funny? That’s the premise of this podcast. Hosted by John Moe (formerly of the NPR classic Wits,) he features interviews with comedians on topics not typically covered by them. Past guests include Maria Bamford, NPR host Peter Sagal, and Paul F. Tompkins in revealing and honest episodes. Many of the guests have never openly talked about or publicly acknowledged their mental illnesses before. During their offseason, they’d release “placebo” episodes — shorter in format, they explore topics like how to get help or different ideas for coping. The lighthearted approach on a serious topic makes it easy to listen to often uncomfortable or difficult conversations.

Mental Illness Happy Hour: Possibly the first mental illness podcast, Paul Gilmartin has hosted this weekly show for over six years. Episodes run the gamut from depression and anxiety to eating disorders, dissociation, sex issues, plane crash PTSD, emotional infidelity, childhood issues and many, many more. As a pioneer of the genre, Gilmartin has welcomed a host of artists, doctors, comedians, his friends, and fans of the show as guests. The podcast’s website is a great resource that features as well, with additional reading in the form of blog posts, listener emails and more.

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My Favorite Murder: The subject matter here isn’t for everyone: My Favorite Murder is a true crime podcast. The hosts talk about murder, sexual assault, and other awful topics. — and in between, Additionally, they address issues such as their mental health, anxiety, and acknowledge that being interested in crime is one way to assuage the panic.

The Dr. Drew Podcast & This Life With Dr. Drew and Bob Forrest: Dr. Drew is most known for offering love and relationship advice on Loveline, as well as being one of the foremost experts on addiction. He hosts a slew of podcasts now, and both of these regularly cover mental health topics. The Dr. Drew Podcast also welcomes listener calls in the spirit of Loveline, and they often hear from loved ones looking for support or advice.

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Mentally Ch(ill): Another podcast that embraces the comedy of mental illness, it was started by two girls in the beginning of 2017. They gained momentum quickly, talking about their struggles, treatment, dating, entertainment — listening to this podcast sounds like chatting with your girlfriends. Stevie Ryan, one of the hosts, tragically committed suicide shortly after the launch of the podcast.A few months into their podcast, one of the hosts, Stevie Ryan, died by suicide. Kristin Carney has continued on, keeping up the conversation.

Hellbent: A feminist political podcast, this might not be the place one would think of for some mental health levity. With the often-scary news that comes out every day, the hosts of this bi-weekly podcast make it a point to include gratitude checks on every episode. They speak often about self-care and the importance of community and surrounding yourself with allies — plus their action items can empower you when you feel helpless.

You can use our site if-me.org to share with loved ones your mental health experiences and plan out strategies to tackle them. We’re an open source organization run by volunteers.