I absolutely love a good podcast. It's my favorite free resource. They are great ways to learn on the go. Podcasts are also a great way to distract and engage yourself if you have a tendency to ruminate or worry a lot. Or if you are prone to some undesirable decision-making when you are unoccupied or bored.
Below are some popular ones related to mental health for you to consider. I have not personally listened to all of these, but if not, they're on the list because they have been recommended to me.
Categories covered below are:
Anxiety-focused - shows with a main focus on understanding and living with or reducing anxiety
General Mental Health Focus - shows that broadly cover a variety of mental health-related topics
Understanding Our Brains & Emotions - shows that take a deeper look at why we do what we do as humans or how to improve in these areas
Relationships - shows that focus on love and sex and relationships
General Healthy Living - shows that aren't focused directly on mental health but touch things that directly impact our mental health
Anxiety Slayer – Hosted by Shann Vander Leek & Ananga Sivyer. This podcast is focused on meditation and various relaxation-type activities such as breathing tools and self-affirmations.
The Anxiety Guy – Hosted by Dennis Simsek. Dennis is a former professional tennis player and anxiety sufferer who now describes himself as a “happiness machine.” On the podcast he shares his experience with anxiety and tips for other sufferers.
Not Another Anxiety Show – Hosted by Kelli Walker, who is a registered nurse, wellness coach, and previously suffered from agoraphobia. Some episodes are conversations with other experts, while in others Kelli offers information and practical tips about how to manage anxiety.
General Mental Health Focus
All in the Mind - Host Lynne Malcolm investigates how thoughts shape the human experience. Described as an "exploration of all things mental," All in the Mind combines personal stories with professional insight. Episodes explore and highlight the connections between our behaviors and their corresponding psychological functions.
Happier – Hosted by Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. Rubin is the author of the book The Happiness Project and the podcast provides tips and tricks aimed to help you increase happiness. These tips are often of the “life-hack” variety and provide listeners ideas on how to improve their quality of life.
PsychCrunch - Hosted by Dr. Christian Jarrett, a cognitive neuroscientist, author, and editor of the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest. PsychCrunch explores the real-life application of psychological science by asking psychologists to compare the findings from their research to their experiences in daily life.
Psych Sessions - Hosted by author and speaker and licensed therapist Jimmie Morris. Psych Sessions is on a mission to assist people who want to learn more about mental health and psychiatry. The show features seasoned therapists and clinicians who share their insights about the psychological factors that affect our lives and they offer insight to help us learn to respond in different ways.
Psychology in Seattle - hosted by Dr Kirk Honda, marriage & family therapist and professor. Since 2009, he has covered pretty much every topic you can think of. And if he hasn’t, you can ask him to. Sometimes Kirk brings in experts, sometimes just his good friend with a layperson’s perspective. He does deep dives into topics, explores the psychology behind fictional characters as well as public figures, and offers regular Q&A sessions that are diverse and informative while also being understandable and entertaining. Official description: an entertaining mix of seriousness and levity.
Say More About That - Hosted by seasoned therapist Jeff Guenther, who focuses on a wide range of mental health issues, with the goal of making therapy more approachable and less stigmatized. In a very approachable and down-to-earth manner, he educates listeners on how therapy really works. He sometimes talks to clients about their up and down journey receiving therapy. But mostly he brings in experts to dissect aspects of therapy and specific mental health topics that don't get enough attention. Update 2021 - no more new episodes.
The Hardcore Self-Help Podcast – Hosted by psychologist Robert Duff. Dr. Huff responds to listener questions on topics related to mental health such as anxiety, depression, and relationships. Dr. Huff tries to avoid jargon and be down-to-earth in his show.
The Mental Illness Happy Hour – Hosted by Paul Gilmartin, comedian, ex-alcoholic and former host of TBS’s Dinner and a Movie. The podcast offers candid and humorous conversations about mental health. Guest hosts include comedians and mental health professionals talking about negative thinking, trauma and addiction.
The One You Feed – Hosted by Eric Zimmer, this podcast describes itself as a discussion about habits, meditation, and various mental health topics. Guests on the show include many well-known writers and experts in meditation and psychology such as Sharon Salzberg, Stephen Hayes, and Tara Brach.
The Struggle Bus – Hosted by Sally Tamarkin and Katharine Heller. The hosts are quick to assert that they don’t have professional training other than “lots of feelings and opinions”. Listeners write in with questions or concerns and the hosts reply on air with tips and feedback.
Therapy for Black Girls - Hosted by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Georgia, this podcast is helpful for any woman although some episodes focus on specific issues related to being a black woman. She has solo episodes as well as experts. Each episode offers practical tips and strategies to improve your mental health. She also discusses the latest news and trends in mental health, pulls back the curtain on what happens in therapy sessions, delves into the psychology behind popular TV show characters, and answers listener questions. Official description: a weekly chat about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
Understanding Our Brains & Emotions
Hidden Brain - Host Shankar Vedantam is an author & NPR science correspondent. The podcast focuses on human factors and patterns that influence our behaviors, the instincts that guide our choices, and elements that impact the way we relate to ourselves and others.
The Happiness Lab - Host & Yale professor Dr Laurie Santos examines the latest scientific research on how to increase happiness, decrease unhappiness, better understand our brain & emotions, and practical strategies you can implement right away.
Huberman Lab - Host Dr. Andrew Huberman is a neuroscientist & Stanford Professor whose aim is to bring brain science to the public. The podcast covers new research about the brain and body to help you better understand positive changes you can make to increase your emotional and physical health.
Invisibilia - Hosted by Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin (and formerly Lulu Miller). Latin for "the invisible things," Invisibilia is an NPR program focusing on the unseen influences that affect our internal and external daily lives. Based on true stories, Invisibilia utilizes a unique blend of psychological science and real life narratives. Listeners are inspired to think, live, and behave in a newly informed way.
Kwik Brain - Hosted by Jim Kwik, founder of KwikLearning.com and a widely recognized leader in speed-reading, memory improvement, brain performance, and accelerated learning. Kwik Brain is a fast-paced show designed to help busy people learn and achieve in a fraction of the time. In this easy to digest bite-sized podcast, Kwik shares his favorite shortcuts to read faster, remember more, and ‘supercharge’ the brain. Whether you’re a student, senior, entrepreneur or educator, you will appreciate these simple actionable tools to sharpen your mind, enhance your focus, and fast-track your fullest potential.
Dear Sugar - Hosted by author Cheryl Strayed and columnist Steve Almond. Named after Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling book, Dear Sugar brings her popular advice column to life. Many of the reader questions center around the deeper and darker questions about love. Nothing is taboo for Sugar. Cheryl and Steve and a collection of excellent guests dole out insightful, compassionate, and applicable advice across an assortment of serious issues like infidelity, jealousy, and past relationships.
Savage LoveCast Host Dan Savage answers a wide range of callers’ questions, and he has been doing so for a while, since 2006. Even when the answers seem unfocused, the substance at the heart of his answers is good: logical, kind, and with plenty of room for the ambiguous truths of relationships. Scroll through previous seasons to decide where to start - there is something for everyone. The weekly, call-in advice series leaves nothing unsaid. And Savage's straightforward and humorous approach to topics (like women who work as webcam girls, straight men who sleep with transwomen, and period sex) makes every last listener feel OK about who they are.
Swoon - Hosts and sex therapists Julie Jeske & Gina Senarighi speak directly to the average person who wants sex and relationship advice. Julie and Gina offer insight and practical tools and techniques that you’ll be able to apply. Whether you want fresh and honest information about sex and relationships or tools to create more fulfilling intimacy and pleasure, this podcast can help you connect meaningfully with yourself and your lovers.
Where Should We Begin? Hosted by therapist Esther Perel, AASECT certified sex therapy supervisor. She delves into a range of topics on relationship health. Author of bestseller, Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, Esther speaks on healthy sexuality, connection, infidelity, and mental health for couples. She shares stories of other couples to educate and inspire those who may find themselves in similar situations.
General Healthy Living
10% Happier - Hosted by Dan Harris, ABC newsman who had a panic attack live on Good Morning America. He wrote the bestselling book, "10% Happier," started an app, "10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics" and now, in this podcast, Dan interviews practicing meditators, Buddhist thinkers, neuroscientists, and other people concerned with making life a little happier. Some guests include George Stephanopoulos, Robert Thurman, actor Alan Cumming, Arianna Huffington, RuPaul, Sharon Salzberg, and many others. He also periodically brings in guests on the show to lead guided meditations.
By the Book - Hosted by comedian Jolenta Greenberg and her skeptical friend Kristen Meinzer. Each episode, they pick a different self-help book to live by for 2 weeks as they try to figure out which ones might actually be life changing. They generally choose books that have some notoriety, that you may have heard about and planned to read, but never did. They also pick books based on popular listener suggestions and cover a range of topics. Billed as “Half reality show, half self-help podcast, and one wild social experiment.”
Life Kit from NPR - a fairly new podcast from NPR. Episodes are clumped around topical themes and address an important area of life that most of us care about. These topics cover the important basics to some complex issues over the span of a few episodes. They are pragmatic guides to help you no matter what level of knowledge or understanding you're starting from. Topics with several episodes inside to explore include: Finances, Health, Parenting, How to Succeed at College, Adult Friendships, Traveling, and more.
Plan to Feel Great - Hosted by Dr. Lauren Crigler, Physical Therapist, personal trainer and running coach with a background in nutrition and psychology. She guides listeners to understand and shift their ineffective mindsets while also teaching how to make plans that are set up for success. She has specialty areas in back pain, pelvic issues, pregnancy and weight loss but takes a broadly applicable approach to helping anyone improve health and fitness, or dig deeper into how to create positive mental and physical health. Update 2021 - no more new episodes.
Super Soul Conversations- hosted by Oprah Winfrey. Each episode includes one of Oprah’s interviews with thought-leaders, best-selling authors, spiritual luminaries, as well as health and wellness experts. Episodes are designed to guide you through life’s big questions, improve your understanding of yourself, and help bring you one step closer to your best life.
Take a listen to some of these and let me know what you think!
This list is a compilation of summaries and reviews from various sources plus some of my own opinions. Podcast descriptions may have been slightly edited or modified but do not represent completely original content. Source credits: