Mental health and mental illness are two things that are often woefully misunderstood in mainstream society. Mental illnesses of all kinds have been stigmatized and blamed for decades now but there are currently numerous podcasts that aim to have hard conversations about mental health and other emotional problems. These shows are a reminder that you are not alone if you’re struggling with mental illness and they serve as a way to better understand these issues.
The following shows are just some of many resources on mental health/illness but they are by no means a substitute for professional health. Therapy and medication are two really important parts of dealing with mental illness. If you need help but don’t know where to look, the National Institute of Mental Health is a great place to start. Plus, the Make It Okay campaign has resources on how to start talking about mental illnesses and other resources.
Dames With Demons is a show hosted by two best friends, Anjulie and Lachrista. These two both have anxiety disorders and the show is all about how they’ve dealt with mental health/illness throughout their lives. There are currently only 14 episodes but they’ve covered issues like medications, dealing with anxious folks, and the mental and physical manifestations of anxiety.
Hosted by comedian John Moe, The Hilarious World of Depression is a hilarious and utterly relatable conversation about mental health. Each episode is an interview and conversation with different comedians, writers, and other generally funny people who also struggle with depression and other mental health problems. The show is a reminder that even some of the seemingly happy and successful people struggle with mental illness and you’re not alone in your experience.
- “The Hilarious World of Depression” an Unflinchingly Necessary Podcast on Mental Health by Wil Williams
Paul Gilmartin hosts this weekly podcast and interviews creators, artists, friends, and even the occasional doctor about things like mental illness, addiction, and trauma. With over 400 episodes so far, there are so many topics covered in this show. On the podcast’s website, Gilmartin wrote that his hope for the show is that it “will give people a place to connect, smile and feel the return of hope. The biggest myth about mental illness is that you are alone and there is no help.”
From American Public Media and hosted by writer Nora McInerny, Terrible, Thanks For Asking isn’t strictly about mental health but it is about all the moments and events in life that are actually not that great. It’s about all those times when you wish you could just say “I’m terrible, thank you for asking” when someone asks how you’re doing. There are episodes about losing spouses, siblings, children, parents. Other episodes deal with sexual assault or abuse or surviving a massive house fire or dealing with mental health issues like suicidal thoughts or OCD.
Each episode is a vulnerable, honest conversation about tough issues and emotions. This show is a reminder that life is filled with a mix of wonderful and terrible moments and there are times where your life might drastically and negatively change. It’s also a reminder that talking about these things is hard and brings out all sorts of awful memories and feelings but sometimes, talking about them is a reminder that you are not alone.
Each episode gives a glimpse into someone’s worst possible moments but in such a loving way. McInerny and her team have a way of letting folks tell their own stories in their own voices and offering the occasional words of wisdom. This show is a reminder that radical empathy can make all the difference, that listening and being present with someone as they go through (or tell) the worst parts of their lives is sometimes the best you can do. It’s a reminder to be kind, understanding, and loving.
UnErased is a podcast about gay conversion therapy in the United States and was created in part by the filmmakers behind “Boy Erased”, a recent film based on a true story of a young man going through conversion therapy after being outed to his parents. This podcast is a collaboration between Focus Features, Anonymous Content, and Limina House; the team also worked with The Mattachine Society to gather unheard recordings and documents from important conversion therapy groups.
It may seem odd to include this show in a list about mental health shows but gay conversion therapy practices have and continue to perpetrate harm on too many folks, especially on young people. Conversion therapy is, simply put, a pseudoscience that attempts to change gay people (usually gay men) into being straight. However, this practice is utterly ineffective and instead, often fuels intense self-hatred in patients and other mental health problems. There are some who have gone through conversion therapy and later reported mental health issues years after the fact.
- Gay Conversion Therapy Survivors Describe Horrors: Listen to ‘Boy Erased’-Inspired Podcast by Omar Sanchez, The Wrap
Honorable Mention: The Bright Sessions
This show is a fictional show about a therapist and her rather unusual patients. While the show is fictional, scripted, and about folks with superpowers, there is an undercurrent throughout the show about the importance of therapy and community.
The shows here aren’t a substitute for professional help with mental illness but serve as a reminder that no matter what you might think, you are not alone. There are so many others also struggling with mental health issues and there’s a community for you if you need one. There are so many amazing ways to get help, including talk therapy (finding the perfect therapist might take some time!), medication, and even pets!
Additionally, these shows (and others) have personally helped me to better understand my own mental illnesses, as there are so many ways that mental illnesses physically, emotionally, and mentally manifest. Illnesses like depression, anxiety, OCD, and others manifest in more ways than most might realize and the shows above often do a really great job of talking about mental health and illness in ways that destigmatize them.
If you (or a loved one) are struggling with mental illness, addiction, or trauma, there are plenty of resources for you. As mentioned so many times before, you are not alone in this journey and deserve to be happy and healthy in whatever way that looks like for you.