If there was any doubt that there’s never been a better time to talk about mental health, one only needs to take cues from pop culture. Whether its celebrities like Selena Gomez or Deepika Padukone, or TV shows (You’re the Worst, Love, Community, Big Bang Theory and Homeland, among others) or comic books (Silk, Hyperbole and a Half, and Swallow Me Whole), these people have taken a step towards ending the stigma around mental health-related topics. However, the process is ongoing and the conversations must continue so that more people can come forward and seek professional help. So honouring Mental Health Awareness Month (May), we at Podcast Post wanted to shine a light on the people that are keeping these conversations going. Here are our top picks:
The Metal-Illness Happy Hour
Comedian Paul Gilmartin is on a mission to help people with mental illnesses through his intense and immersive two-hour long weekly podcast, The Mental-Illness Happy Hour. The New York Times describes it as “a perversely safe place in which [Paul] and his guests talk about their fears, addictions and traumatic childhoods.”
Dispelling the myth that when it comes to mental health, you wage a lonely war, Gilmartin combines interviews with celebrities, artists, therapists, and podcast listeners, with anonymous surveys and anecdotes from his own life to show that ultimately all of us have dark and light sides. The podcast essentially works as a safe place to talk about that dark side, sans judgement. The show has tackled topics such as depression, anxiety, addiction, sexual predators and the like. The May 5 episode, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward, delves into the still unexplored territory of the lives of caregivers of mental health patients, shining a light on how much help they also need.
Technically not a podcast about mental health, Sleepover is our recommendation for people out there who are looking for a ray of sunshine on an overcast day. The reality podcast invites three strangers from all walks of life to have a hotel pyjama party with host Sook-Yin Lee, where she then helps unpack an issue they might be struggling with, whether its loneliness, relationships, career challenges or coming to terms with death. While the themes are universal, the stories that unravel when four strangers come together are surprisingly intimate, unique and go deep to explore the modern, human experience.
Hilarious World of Depression
From the producers of hit podcasts The Dinner Party Download and Historically Black comes another gem, The Hilarious World of Depression. Early in the first episode of The Hilarious World of Depression, host John Moe says: “Depression wants you to stay quiet. And alone. And ashamed. That way it can fester. Diseases love to fester.” Moe then goes on to staying anything but quiet. Using his own experiences of having dealt with mental illness throughout his life as a base, he then interviews celebrities and comedians, many of whom are discussing their battle with depression publicly for the first time, like NPR mainstay Peter Sagal. Through comedy, storytelling and the simple act of sharing, Hilarious World of Depression makes the crippling and isolating disease seem less like an individual burden and unites people from across the world to fight back.
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
While we’ve evolved enough to know that the pursuit of happiness on an everyday basis sets us up for failure more often than not, host Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of The Happiness Project, is here to peddle sunshine and hope to anyone who’s buying. On Happiness, Rubin discusses good habits and motivation techniques with her sister, Elizabeth Craft. Each week, the sisters engage listeners by discussing the many ways one can go about finding out about their own personality type and then pairing that information with good habits that suit you and your lifestyle. While it sounds easier than done, Rubin and Craft stick around week after week to remind listeners to make small and consistent changes to their life that will take them towards happiness or at least a place closer to it.