A few months ago, after an urgent care visit, an overnight stay in the hospital and a slew of medical exams, I discovered my blood pressure was abnormally high. The high blood pressure symptoms were just a manifestation of a deeper health issue I was experiencing — chronic anxiety. Wasting no time, I threw myself into self-care. I wanted to find the right balance to manage my anxiety.

I’ve tried it all: stress management classes, getting more sleep, trying not to be as stressed, meditation, weekly therapy sessions, acupuncture — you name it. It’s a process, and I’m just at the beginning. My latest step is starting an anti-anxiety medication. The more I talk to family, friends and co-workers about anxiety, the more I realize how many live with mental health issues everyday.

Over the course of my research, I discovered a trove of mental health podcasts. In the spirit of #InternetSelfCareDay, I rounded up some of my favorite podcasts that discuss mental health. I admire each and every one of these hosts, so I asked a few of them to share how they got the courage to speak so openly about mental health. It’s so reassuring to hear people talk openly about their struggles.


As you can guess from the name of the podcast, co-hosts Sarah Thyre and Susan Orlean talk about the things that make us cry. They interview creative guests — like musicians, writers and actors — and have intimate and moving discussions about what makes them weep.

The Lily: What’s your personal experience with mental health?

Sarah Thyre: I suffer from anxiety and depression, and I’ve found both therapy and medication to be very helpful.

TL: What gives you the courage to speak about mental health?

ST: I am in the business of de-stigmatizing things that are often kept secret — like crying and emotional pain (with my podcast) and reproductive rights (with my activism). Somebody’s got to! I don’t mind being that person.

After we record an episode of “Crybabies,” often with a guest I just met that day, we all feel like a burden has been lifted. Personal details have been shared and intimate things discussed. Our listeners have told me they get the same feeling, a vicarious therapy session. Some fans have even held “Crybabies” parties where they get together with friends and discuss the art and culture that makes them weep. I absolutely love hearing this.

I have mentally ill relatives who suffer because they don’t speak out about it. Their families also suffer. It can prevent a lot of pain and bring people together if we normalize frank conversation and sharing about mental health.

TL:What’s your №1 Internet self-care tip?

ST: Practice mindful meditation, which anyone can do as it costs nothing, and you don’t need a mantra. It’s not about blocking thoughts or thinking. It’s about noticing them and letting them go. It’s called a “practice” because none of us are perfect at it, but we can keep trying. The simplest tip I can give you is known as S.T.O.P., which stands for Stop; Take a breath; Observe what you’re feeling, identify it; Proceed.

Co-hosts Yvette Caster and Ellen Scott of Metro.co.uk talk to a mystery guest each week about the weird thoughts in our minds. Caster started suffering from depression in her teens and had her first manic episode at 18, which led to a diagnosis for bipolar disorder. Scott has dealt with anxiety, depression, panic attacks and obsessive thoughts.

TL:Has the Internet impacted your mental health? If so, how?

Yvette Caster:Yes. It’s not always great. I can definitely find myself going in circles online, especially on social media. I remember one particularly difficult weekend when I’d written a controversial article and was getting a lot of abuse on Twitter, which I found almost impossible to switch off from.

On the other hand, it’s pretty wonderful how you can connect with other people who have experienced similar mental health issues — reading their blogs, following their social media, listening to their podcasts and chatting in forums can make you feel less alone.

TL:What’s your №1 Internet self-care tip?

YC: It’s my therapist’s tip really: Turn your phone off when you get in. Also, never check your work messages out of work hours (and definitely not on weekends or on holidays). You deserve a break.

Ellen Scott:It’s okay to take a break from the Internet. It’s okay to not know everything as it happens if it’s making you anxious. Don’t feel guilty or stupid — turn off your notifications and close Twitter if you’re feeling awful.

Do you have a dark place? Do you ever feel alone? Joel Kutz produces not one, but two podcasts: “The Dark Place” and “Stories from Today.” As the host of “The Dark Place,”he talks to everyday people and shares their stories about depression, anxiety, trauma and mental illness. He hopes to “show that if you’re struggling, you’re not alone.”

TL: What gives you the courage to speak about mental health?

Joel Kutz:Before I launched “The Dark Place,” I volunteered as a counselor for a suicide crisis line. Most callers I spoke with expressed feeling like they didn’t have anyone they could turn to and that no one would understand what they were going through. I find the courage because I know that each of those callers, and everyone in a similar place, needs to hear more voices like their own.

TL: What’s your №1 Internet self-care tip?

JK:Never log on first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Whether you live alone or with family and friends, save those times for the world outside your screen.

Best friends and co-hosts Katharine Heller and Sally Tamarkin offer candid advice to listener-submitted questions about family, friends, work, mental health and literally everything else. No topic is off-limits. Heller and Tamarkin have spent a lot of time in therapy, and they endorse it whole-heartedly.

TL: What gives you the courage to speak about mental health?

Katharine Heller:At this point, I feel like it’s dangerous to not talk about it. Depression can be a scary and lonely place. For me, hearing about other people’s struggles helps me understand I’m not alone. With our show, I want to be honest about my own problems on the off chance that it could help someone.

Sally Tamarkin: I’ve been in therapy on and off since I was eight years old, so at this point, I don’t think it’s a matter of courage as much as it is a thing that’s been a part of my life and thoughts for a long time. But I will say that I believe/think/hope that the more we talk openly about mental health and being in therapy/seeking professional care, the more we can ease the stigma around needing a hand with being OK in this world, and perhaps change some of the systems and structures that make mental health care and treatment accessible to some and not others.

TL: What’s your №1 Internet self-care tip?

KH: Do. Not. Ever. Read. The. Comments. Section. Especially if it’s about you.

ST:Take a break from Twitter when you can, and give yourself a chance to sit with and process terrible news rather than letting other people’s sadness, rage and anxiety (all of which are very logical reactions, by the way) sink into you.

Other podcasts I recommend

Hosts Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu give listeners a lot of themselves in “Another Round.” Sometimes, you feel their joy, and it lifts you up: Clayton’s laugh is contagious, and they have a genuine love for each other as friends. Other times, you hear them talk about their struggles, and you appreciate that they’re sharing personal moments of anguish. In conversation with each other and guests, they frequently talk about anxiety, depression and the tough aspects of going to therapy. At the end of the podcast, they remind listeners: “Drink some water, take your meds and call your person.”

Check out this episode, “The Most Introverted Sasha Fierce,” for their interview with comedian Aparna Nancherla about making depression funny. They also discuss a “Beginner’s Guide to Starting Therapy.” (Is it worth the money? Do you actually lay on a couch? What do you do if you don’t have insurance?)

Branden Harvey is more than a podcast host: He’s a champion for hope and good in the world. His curiosity and enthusiasm for storytelling is contagious. Listen to inspiring conversations with optimists and world-changers about happiness, overcoming struggles and living a life of intentionality. While sharing these stories, mental health is a common theme.

One of my favorite episodes is an interview with Sammy Nickalls, a freelance writer and creator of the hashtag #TalkingAboutIt.

Host Laura Miller is a cookbook author and the mastermind behind YouTube’s “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.” Miller has dealt with various mental health issues for more than 20 years, and she discovered she was pregnant while dealing with depression. She realized the resources for mothers with depression were slim, so she started a podcast to talk to brave, interesting people about what “the voices in their heads are like.”

Her pilot episode is a candid, hilarious and deep conversation with Jen Gotch, the founder and CCO of Ban.do about coping with depression, panic attacks and bipolar disorder. Follow Gotch on Instagram, where she shares daily about mental health.

The Heart

Kaitlin Prest is the host of “The Heart,” an audio art project about intimacy and humanity. I am willing to bet this podcast is unlike anything you’ve ever heard. It’s so beautifully and thoughtfully produced, and it truly is a work of art. It’s divided into “seasons” that feature a handful of episodes about various topics such as masculinity and femininity, feelings and love and an exploration of Prest’s sexual boundaries from youth to adulthood. The newest mini-season is titled, “Bodies." She talks about vaginas and painful sex. It’s a must-listen.

Host John Moe has recruited fellow comedians who are willing to talk about depression.

“It’s a show where we drag depression out into the sunlight, talk openly and honestly about it, and have a little fun,” he says. There’s something for everyone in this series of frank, moving and funny conversations.

Stand-up comedian and TV personality Paul Gilmartin interviews fellow comedians, artists, friends and the occasional doctor about mental illness, trauma, addiction and negative thinking. Gilmartin was diagnosed with clinical depression in 1999 and has been sober since 2003.

“I’m not a therapist,” he says. “This isn’t a doctor’s office. It’s more like a waiting room, that doesn’t suck.”

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