7 podcasts about mental health that will make you laugh (in a good way)
Where there’s a cliché, there is nearly always a nugget of truth. The ‘Tears of a Clown’ truism – that all jokers are masking an inner sadness – has endured for decades. And while there are no doubt plenty of torment-free comics, there are many in the current British comedy scene who do suffer demons. And despite the fact that tackling taboos is their stock-in-trade, it is only really in the last few years, as mental illness has moved out of the shadows and into every day conversations, that lots of comedians have come out fighting, talking and laughing, about mental health – and helped others enormously in the process.
From John Robins‘ 2017 Edinburgh-winning show “The Darkness of Robins” to Simon Amstell’s BBC special Numb (now on Netflix), Ruby Wax’s book and TED Talk “What’s So Funny About Mental Illness“, Stephen Fry’s efforts to demystify bi-polar to Robert Webb talking from his hilarious, moving memoir How Not To Be A Boy at CALM’s Being A Man festival, comedy has flipped from being a great way to avoid talking mental illness to a great way to confront it head on and take away some of its cruel sting.
Over roughly the same period this has happened, the podcast has gone through a similar flourishing in audiences, quality and choice. So it makes total sense then, that these days the “The Giant Podcast Bin’ (thanks Adam Buxton) is brimming with top draw audio delights that shed light on all aspects of mental health while making us laugh at the same time.
Here’s our pick of the current crop.
After struggling with emotional wellbeing, Alice Bradley and Deanna Zandt founded the bi-weekly and terrifically titled League of Awkward Unicorns podcast. Speaking from personal experiences this sometimes serious podcast is also funny, reassuring and empowering. Each episode is full of relatable moments and funny anecdotes making for a refreshingly honest mental health discussion.
New on the scene, Mrs Brightside, hosted by funny woman Susan Calman, takes a “cheerful look at depression” with a different guest each week. With guests including Al Murray and Jessie Cave, covering depression, anxiety, OCD, teenage angst, and everything in between this pod pushes back the last vestiges of taboo with searing honest and warm wit.
Once a week Assante, Fran, and Dustin explore and discuss all things “mental health, mental wealth and mental hygiene”. Covering all bases, from family and relationships to money and creativity using personal stories of mental health struggles, the funny trio are relatable and authentic and have crafted a show that is motivating and ultimately up-lifting.
Is it possible to laugh whilst talking about depression? With John Moe at the helm and star guests of such esteem as John Green, Russell Brand and Margaret Cho sharing their stories of depression it certainly is. Moe has created a safe space to chip away at the stigma surrounding mental illness and offer solace to those suffering.
American comedian Paul Gilmartin started The Mental Illness Happy Hour way back in 2011. Each week he’s joined by a special guest to discuss both mental and emotional struggles. Each episode focuses on mental illness, trauma, addiction, and negative thinking but with a comforting, honest and humorous twist.
Presented by psychotherapists Deanna Silverman and Frances Echeverria this no-judgement podcast looks at removing the stigma surrounding depression. The dynamic duo touch on all subjects from relationships, body image, and parenting, to self-care and mental health, all with a smile, and raw, unfiltered opinions.
The extended podcast version of anorak and footie-obsessed Welsh comic/actor Elis James and aforementioned darkness sufferer John Robins’ Radio X show has achieved something quite remarkable in the 4 years since they started; turning blokey banter between indie rock bangers into a huge, sharing, caring community of ‘vibe-tasting hammer legends’ united by a love of weak ale and deep Queen cuts and a hatred of the #humblebrag.