The ongoing pandemic and its unsettling effects has brought about a boom in podcasts focusing on mental health. Delving beyond superficial self-care topics, these mental health podcasts unpack and deconstruct issues that normally get swept under the carpet, such as grief, co-dependency, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health challenges.
Whether you’re looking for a space to help you process your thoughts, or searching for actionable tips to feel better, or just to distract and refocus, these podcasts are worth listening to, and possibly subscribing and sharing.
Hosted by Krista Tippett – a Peabody Award-winning radio broadcaster, New York Times best-selling author, and a 2014 recipient of the National Humanities Medal – On Being dives into topics ranging from how we can use a “compassionate body scan” as a stress management technique to finding ease in loneliness and solitude.
Best for: If you’ve been pondering the “big” philosophical and existential questions of life, this podcast is for you.
Yale professor Dr Laurie Santos makes the idea of achieving happiness actually achievable. Through insightful interviews, combined with scientific research and relatable lightbulb moment insights, her podcast dispenses the tools needed to take positive ownership of your mind and life. Both life-changing and self-affirming, some of the best episodes to listen to include this one on Treating the Pain of a Broken Heart and her series on Happiness Lessons by the Ancients.
Best for: The perfect excuse to start a podcast club with your closest friends. This compelling, well-researched podcast series draws deep connections between human behaviour and emotions. For those who are interested in a more in-depth exploration on the subject of happiness, a version of Dr Santos’ Yale course – its most popular one in 300 years – is available for free on online course provider Coursera (coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being).
Go on a meditative walk with Season 3 of Apple’s guided workout service Time To Walk. Launched in 2021, this feature on Apple Fitness+ allows users to tune in to inspiring stories from the likes of Prince William and country singer Dolly Parton – its latest line-up includes guests such as comedian Rebel Wilson and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
Best for: Hustlers who can’t live without their Apple Watch
If there’s one good thing that has come out of this ongoing pandemic, it’s that depression as a condition has become less stigmatised and is now viewed as a mental health condition that can affect anyone. While depression varies in degrees of severity, host John Moe’s direct yet comedy-inflected interviews with comedians and public figures help to throw more light on the condition, and dispense practical tips on how to cope.
Best for: Those suffering from depression or supporting someone who is going through a tough time. Understanding depression is a life skill we could all learn, and this podcast will help you navigate this complicated mental health condition.
Billed as “practical wisdom for a better life”, host Eric Zimmer uses the evocative parable of the two wolves that battle within us as the foundation to discuss and debate life’s inherent challenges. Each episode focuses on learning how to feed your good wolf and change your relationship with your thoughts, and Zimmer’s sharp interview skills with his expert guests provoke insightful questions you might find yourself echoing while listening. The deep dive into topics like finding the zest in life and setting boundaries is wisdom we could all do with. Rather than wade through the podcast episode list, go to the website for a cliff-notes type breakdown so you can zoom into specific episodes to download.
Best for: Anyone looking to reset their behaviour and take a more positive approach to lead a better, more fulfilling life.
Available on Apple Podcasts
This long-running podcast about death and grief – taboo topics that few dare to talk about – is especially apt and needed these days. Hosted by comedian Cariad Lloyd, her gentle, empathetic manner in coaxing stories from people about dealing with pain and loss is both touching and endearing, cathartic and inspiring. Each episode strikes a careful balance between humour and gravitas, leaving the listener with new insights on how to process the complex nature of grief.
Best for: Anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one. You will find solace and perhaps even closure listening to the stories of others.
This podcast is a godsend for the stressed and time-challenged. Hosted by hypnotherapist Chel Hamilton (who has the most soothing voice) these short episodes cycle through various meditation techniques such as box breathing and silent meditation, and scenarios (meditating for energy, clarity, opening, and releasing). Whichever podcast you listen to, you’ll emerge feeling immediately better and calmer.
Best for: When you need a breather or are feeling overwhelmed. This mood-balancing podcast is the perfect start/end to a day, and can literally be done while waiting for your food delivery to arrive.
Listen in to real-life therapy sessions conducted by Hillary McBride and her clients. A podcast that demystifies mental health through real stories recorded in real-time. Sessions tackle messy topics concerning divorce, childhood traumas, parenting, marriage etc. There’s no script or media-savvy individuals being interviewed, just real people with real problems.
Best for: Anyone who has held back on seeking help. This fascinating podcast sheds light not only on other people’s problems, but what actually goes on in a therapy session.
If you’re looking for a podcast that’s upbeat and brimming with good vibes, this is the podcast to bookmark. Host Kristen Truempy has been podcasting since 2014, so there’s a library of episodes to binge listen to. Fun and informative in tone, the show covers a wide variety of topics (e.g. mindfulness, body image, dealing with Covid-19, psychology of trust) with most lasting under an hour. Ultimately, Truempy’s kintsukuroi (golden joinery) approach – she created a rap about it – using positive psychology tools and exercises to mend is helpful without being intimidating, or belittling which keeps you listening.
Best for: Self-starters who like taking an active, mindful approach to their mental well-being.
A weekly online podcast, host Paul Gilmartin interviews comedians, artists, friends, and the occasional doctor addressing a broad spectrum of topics related to mental health and also less easily detectable traumas linked to issues around co-dependency, anorexia and self-harm. His deeply personal take – relating through his and his guest’s personal experience – creates an atmosphere of a safe space but some real-life examples could be triggering for extra vulnerable listeners.
Best for: If you’re just getting started on figuring out what’s going on with you. Sometimes hearing another’s struggles and perspective is enough to make one feel heard and not alone, and this podcast is a good resource for that.
You may be happy but how often do you actually express gratitude? Podcast host, author, and editor-in-chief of Parade, Janice Kaplan explores gratitude from all angles. Using practical, down-to-earth tips based on research from psychologists, Nobel Prize winners, neurologists and doctors that’s easily woven into daily life, she poses a great question: “What if you had the chance to make yourself happier every day, in every aspect of your life?”
Best for: If you’re looking for a daily reminder to fill your “gratitude gap”. Like many things in life, expressing gratitude is something that can be learned and formed into a habit.
You might be familiar with this happiness specialist and author’s work (she wrote The Happiness Project long before positive thinking became a pop culture mainstay) and this podcast follows along the same vein. Easy to listen to and packed with real-life scenarios, Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft dispense tips on how to build a happier, better life through wholesome happiness hacks and using her insightful Four Tendency framework (take the quiz here) which delves into how our tendencies shape our perspective on the world.
Best for: If you like being a fly on the wall of two BFFs dishing, you’ll enjoy the tone and cadence of this podcast.