The increase in the public’s willingness to engage in dialogue about psychology and the world of mental health is really refreshing. I think that one of the best ways to access this wealth of psychological information is through podcasts. Podcasts are a quick and easy way to learn a little bit (or a lot!) about a wide range of topics from a variety of perspectives including researchers, mental health care providers, patients or former patients, and curious observers.
The wealth of psychology-related podcasts that exist now is quite extensive. In writing this post, I’ve collected and listened to a number of potentially relevant podcasts and curated a hardly-comprehensive, entirely personal-opinion-driven, list of 5 suggestions. Think of these as some great pools to dip your toes into the vast and curious waters of psychology so that you can decide if you’re ready to take a swim.
- Mental Illness Happy Hour
This podcast is hosted by Paul Gilmartin, an American comedian who has been extremely vocal about his experience with mental illness over the years. His aim is to reduce stigma by openly discussing his own mental health issues. His episodes often feature actors, writers, comedians, and friends of Paul who, like him, have also experienced mental illness in some form or another. These dialogues are often humorous but touch on deeper truths that strike a chord with listeners. His podcast is not only relatable but is also humorous and enjoyable listening. While Paul is not a mental health professional and makes no claims that he is offering professional guidance to those in need, his podcast may offer some relief to those who feel alone in their struggle with mental health issues.
An episode to consider: Chris Mancini – A Buffet of Anxiety. Comedian and filmmaker Chris Mancini sits down with Paul to discuss anxiety, depression and feeling career disappointment.
- The Psych Central Show
Hosted by Gabe Howard and Vincent M. Wales, this podcast hopes to provide listeners with a “candid chat on mental health and psychology.” Similar to Paul Gilmartin, neither of the show’s hosts are mental health professionals, although they have both experienced mental health problems and are speaking openly about the issues they have wrestled with throughout the years. Gabe has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well as several anxiety disorders. He hopes that through both his podcast and his work as a public speaker that he can help to put a “face on mental illness.” Gabe and Vincent’s podcast offers educational information about psychiatric disorders and aims to demystify the experience of having and overcoming particular symptoms.
An episode to consider: What does binge eating disorder feel like? In this episode, Gabe speaks openly about his years-long struggle with binge eating.
- The Psych Files
One of the longest running podcasts on the air (it started in 2007!), The Psych Files is a psychology-based podcast hosted by Michael A. Britt, Ph.D. Dr. Britt, an adjunct professor of Social Psychology at Marist College in New York, describes his podcast as being directed towards “anyone interested in human behavior,” although it tends to have a tilt towards students studying psychology as well as mental health professionals. Dr. Britt is known for having in-depth discussions about various psychological theories and often brings on mental health researchers to discuss relevant research. One interesting example comes from episode 314 in which Dr. Britt discusses therapeutic techniques for patients who have experienced trauma with Matt Jaremko, Ph.D., a longtime professor of clinical psychology. Britt and Jaremko weave together approaches to conducting therapy with trauma victims with psychological theories from Albert Bandura and Arnold Lazarus. This podcast is especially well-suited for a listener looking to learn about how certain phenomena are studied.
An episode to consider: Owning Bipolar: A Conversation with Michael Pipich
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin
This is podcast is based on the premise that there are probably things we can all do to improve about emotional well-being. “Happier” offers small, tangible ways to improve day-to-day life. Gretchen is an influential author on the subject of happiness and human nature, with several New York Times bestselling self-help books. The self-proclaimed “happiness guru” who has also written a variety of books and articles, in addition to hosting her podcast. Although she is not a mental health professional, Gretchen has a lot of valuable insight and might offer some relief to those who need support in managing day to day stressors. Gretchen often co-hosts the podcast with her sister, Elizabeth Craft, who hosts the California based podcast “Happier in Hollywood”. Each episode has a theme, such as episode 196: “Find a holiday motto”, that the sisters discuss as well as answer questions from their listeners.
An episode to consider: “Have a Power Down Weekend” In this episode, Gretchen offers ideas of how to use weekends well to take time for yourself and recharge.
- Hidden Brain
One of my favorite podcasts to listen to, Hidden Brain, is an NPR podcast hosted by Shankar Vedantam. Currently a social science correspondent for NPR, Shankar spent 10 years as a reporter for the Washington Post and two years before that writing the Post column, “Department of Human Behavior.” Hidden Brain specifically focuses on the psychology underlying human behavior, and Shankar interweaves current psychological research with human interest stories to create a vibrant, yet informative narrative. This podcast provides an interesting look into the human mind and shines a light on the eternal human question: what makes people tick?
An episode to consider: “Hungry, Hungry Hippocampus.” This episode takes a look at the psychology behind eating behavior.
Though I have limited myself to 5 podcasts, I do have one final recommendation. This is not for a podcast, but instead a series of videos posted online by Kati Morton, LMFT, titled Kati Morton, Therapist and Friend. Kati’s videos span a wide range of topics and can be especially helpful to those who are just learning more about the world of mental health and are looking for some basic information. Her videos range from discussions about what it’s like to go to therapy to informational videos about different mental illnesses. While not a substitution for any mental health treatment, Kati’s videos may offer some support to those who are interested in learning more about mental health and treatment. A video relevant to my work at the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders to consider: Seven must-know facts about anorexia nervosa.