cartoon of a brain wearing headphones

A Little Extra Help From Our Podcast Friends

A Mental Health Provider Listening to Mental Health Podcasts

I listen to a lot of podcasts.  So much so that when I turn them on, I feel like I am turning on a conversation with “my friends”.  You know… the friends that don’t know who I am and I’ve never met.  With the amount of driving I do throughout the DMV, paired with my love of learning, I am always on the hunt for audio-based media to teach and challenge me in the pseudo-therapy space I refer to as my car. 

podcast microphone

Now, not all the podcasts I listen to are for critical thinking and teaching. Although I am sure I could argue I learn a lot about myself and the world through them all.  I do occasionally like to dabble in excruciatingly long podcasts: the kind where people analyze the new spicy chicken sandwich from Popeyes. Or a deep dive about the latest installment from the Fast and The Furious franchise. Those are my moments that I need for pure distraction and to laugh on my way home from work. 

Over the past few weeks, however, I have found that turning towards podcasts about mental health has felt more restorative and important to me than choosing episodes that have been my go-to distractions. My theory is that these podcasts humanize mental health challenges within a culture, and dare I say field, that still focuses on deficits and symptoms. These podcast spaces let us know we are not alone, even when we are alone in our cars.  And this seems more important now than ever before!

Mental Health Podcasts come in different shapes and sizes

Throughout the years, I have found many different podcasts that I value for discussions on all sorts of topics circling in and around mental health. I love informational and psychoeducational podcasts about the brain. And I love interview podcasts! Some interviewing experts in the field. Others interview people who are sharing their life stories as experts of themselves. 

Many mental health podcasts focus on topics and discussions that we have been socialized to avoid, ignore, or minimize.  Many of these podcasts have a helpful mix of talking with professionals and non-professionals in interviews and through education. 

While some podcasts can certainly pull us out of our own reality, some podcasts pull us right back in to the sticky, rough, complex experience of being a human. 

Podcasts for mental health is not the same as therapy

Podcasts are not a substitute for individualized and professional mental health treatment.  If you are noticing that you are craving these opportunities to learn more about your mental health and work on yourself, this could be an indication that therapy would be great to explore. 

Of course, there are many reasons why therapy might not be an immediately accessible option.

When this is the case, I think podcasts can be an important part of our wellness. Mental health podcasts provide us with a space to explore, question, challenge, and ultimately sit with ourselves. They also serve as a great reminder that recovery is dynamic. And, as a collective group, we can all work on bringing down the walls of mental health stigma to better connect with ourselves and others.  

Here’s a list of the ones I have come across and enjoyed.

I’ve linked each to their descriptions and websites so you can check out what might make sense for you and your needs.  Please know this is just a beginner’s list. There are SO many more out there covering different niches and demographics!

**And an important disclaimer, I have not listened to every episode of all these podcasts. So like all things online, proceed wisely, knowing that not every thing fits for every person, and make appropriate decisions based on what YOU need.

Cover photos of 8 of the top mental health podcasts

About The Author

Lizzy Kosin, therapist at Montgomery County Counseling Center in Rockville MD

Lizzy Kosin, LCSW-C is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Therapist at Montgomery County Counseling Center in Rockville, MD. She earned her AM degree (equivalent to an MSW) from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Her training includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  Lizzy specializes with teens and adults who want the benefits of therapy without feeling stuffy or over-medicalized. She values the importance of the mind-body connection and using experiential activities to keep the fun in building insight and motivating towards progress. Lizzy is licensed in both Maryland and Washington DC.

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