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Somewhere at the intersection of radio and TED talks are podcasts. For the modern generation that’s increasingly overwhelmed with screen time, podcasts are a great way to learn new information. They can also accelerate your personal growth and offer entertainment.
In the case of mental health podcasts, these shows can double as self-care. The best podcasts on mental health often include research and insights and inspire healthy habits. And, because of their versatility, you can listen to podcasts anywhere. Insights, news, and information can accompany you on a flight, a run, a road trip, or on your lunch break. And, you're bound to learn new things that'll help you take care of your mental health.
Check out our picks of the best mental health podcasts, and find out how to choose the best one.
What is a mental health podcast?
A mental health podcast is a series of recorded conversations covering various topics related to mental well-being. Like a radio broadcast, a podcast is usually hosted by the same person each episode. It might feature guests, an in-depth series on a particular issue, or cover current events. On a mental health podcast, these guests are often therapists, psychologists, behavioral scientists, and authors.
20 of the best mental health podcasts
There’s no “right” mental health podcast to listen to, so feel free to sample an episode here or there to find your favorite. Here are some of the top-rated psychology and mental health podcasts around.
Inside Mental Health
Run by Psych Central, Inside Mental Health aims to make psychology and mental health accessible. It’s full of practical, timely insights on how to understand (and live with) mental health disorders. The weekly podcast often features celebrities, clinical psychologists, and other guests. Each episode is about 30 minutes.
Overcoming Narcissist Abuse
Hosted by Dr. Carmen Bryant, this podcast has a devoted following among people (either currently or formerly) in relationships with narcissistic partners. The episodes range from less than ten minutes to Q & As that last over an hour. People report a strong sense of validation, encouragement, and connection from Bryant’s series.
I Weigh with Jameela Jamil
More than a podcast, I Weigh is anchored in a dynamic community that prides itself on “radical inclusivity.” Actress and influencer Jameela Jamil leads weekly conversations with fascinating individuals. These guests share their personal experiences on everything under the sun. Topics include trauma, race, sexuality, parenting, living with mental illness, and social justice.
Part neuroscience, part life hacks, Hidden Brain helps people understand how their innermost selves work. Each 50-minute episode features a social scientist who delves into a key topic in behavioral health. This can help listeners understand how to strengthen their mental fitness and challenge themselves in new ways.
The mindbodygreen Podcast
If you enjoy the content on the mindbodygreen site, you’ll love this podcast. Hosted by Jason Wachob (mbg founder & co-CEO), the show has an archive of over 350 episodes. The podcast features leaders from all aspects of well-being and the brand’s signature, holistic approach to wellness. Each episode is around 40 minutes long.
The Courageous Life
Insightful, accessible, and backed with outstanding credentials, The Courageous Life podcast describes itself as a “global conversation...about overcoming fear and growing courage to pursue what matters most in life, work, and love.”
It lives up to its name, regularly featuring in-depth conversations with an impressive list of guest speakers. The show is hosted by coach, teacher, and BetterUp Coach Community Manager Joshua Steinfeldt.
We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon & Amanda Doyle
Glennon Doyle’s book “Untamed” was released right at the start of the pandemic, but its relative youth hasn’t prevented it from amassing a devoted following — or cult-classic status. If you love Doyle for her authentic, straightforward style and fearless approach to complex topics, this podcast is a must-listen for your list.
The Anxiety Coaches Podcast with Gina Ryan
Arguably the most popular podcast for people with anxiety, The Anxiety Coaches Podcast boasts an impressive 12 million downloads. Updated twice a week, Gina Ryan (nutritionist and anxiety coach) shares her experiences, interviews guests, and delves into various aspects of anxiety in 20-minute episodes.
The Psychology Podcast
Practical and accessible, The Psychology Podcast blends insights from behavioral science with tips on making it work in everyday life. The host, Scott Barry Kaufman, frequently interviews scientists, professors, and thought leaders, breaking down nuanced topics in an easy-to-grasp way.
The Emotions Mentor
Want to hone your emotional regulation skills? This is your weekly mentorship — in 40-minute doses. Led by mental health professional Rebecca Hintze, this podcast is excellent at examining timely social issues and ways of navigating them that protect our well-being.
Therapy for Black Girls
Led by licensed psychologist Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Therapy for Black Girls is a community and safe space for women of color. The weekly podcast has nearly 5,000 ratings and almost half a million followers. You can listen to insightful conversations on intersectionality and mental health for free or join the community for a small fee.
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
If you’re perusing a list of the best mental health podcasts, chances are good you already know Brené Brown. The research professor and (five-time!) New York Times bestseller leads conversations on topics like shame, vulnerability, and activism. (Bonus: if you really love Brown’s work, she has another podcast called Dare to Lead).
Manifest It, Sis!
Enlightening and empowering, the Manifest It, Sis! podcast sits at the intersection of mental health, psychology, and spirituality. Hosted by intuitive life coach Danielle Faust, the podcast features leaders — often women of color — from various modalities and backgrounds. The podcast is spiritually based yet anchored with practical suggestions, authenticity, and humor.
Psychology in 10 Minutes
Short on time? Psychology in 10 Minutes promises to teach you something new about psychology while you sip your morning coffee. Even though the episodes are short, they cover important and nuanced topics, like mixed feelings, grief, gratitude, and fixation with money.
Closer to Fine
The newest podcast on this list, Closer to Fine is a candid conversation about mental health between two best friends. They cover topics that most would shy away from at the dinner table with irreverent, self-deprecating, and loving humor. Topics in the first season include setting boundaries, church hurt, and diet culture.
If you’re into the science behind self-help, check out Huberman Lab. While not strictly a mental health podcast, neuroscientist and professor Andrew D. Huberman delves into the brain, biology, and how science affects everyday behavior. His shows are excellent, informative, and rooted in modern, evidence-based research on what makes us tick.
Being Well with Dr. Rick Hanson
Long before “wellness” became a buzzword, Dr. Rick Hanson was teaching the science of well-being. With over thirty years of experience, his podcast offers support, thoughtfully chosen topics, and features expertise from both guest speakers and his experience as a counselor. On his website, you can sift through episodes by topic — a helpful feature if there’s something on your mind.
Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown
Actress, mom, author, director, and neuroscientist is a pretty solid resume. Known for her role on the fan-favorite Big Bang Theory, Mayim Bialik, Ph.D., explains concepts in mindfulness, mental health, and emotional well-being “so that you don’t have to.”
The show is updated weekly and hosts a fascinating, eclectic mix of guests — including comedians, actors, influencers, researchers, and activists.
The Daily Meditation Podcast
With nearly 2,000 episodes, The Daily Meditation Podcast updates with a short mindfulness practice every day. Each week, meditation teacher Mary Meckley selects a new theme, with guided meditations aimed to help participants sleep better, manage stress, and feel more peaceful. Episodes range from just a couple of minutes to over half an hour so that you can bliss out on any schedule.
If you’ve dealt with clinical depression or other mental health issues before, you know that there’s nothing quite as healing as someone who just gets it. Hosted by public radio host and humorist John Moe, the show shares frank, heartfelt, and funny experiences about depression as part of its commitment to breaking the stigma around mental health.
How do I choose the best mental health podcast?
Generally, there’s no fee to access or listen to a podcast. If you find that this medium works well for you, feel free to download as many as you like. If you’re not sure where to start, however, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a mental health podcast to listen to:
The host will be your constant companion through every episode you listen to. Choosing a host you find appealing makes sense — even if it’s only because you like their voice.
Many authors, speakers, and public personalities host podcasts, so if there’s someone you like on another platform, check their social media and find out if they have a podcast, too. Most will provide links to their show on platforms like iTunes, Stitcher, Anchor, and Spotify.
Mental health is a pretty broad topic. Some programs specialize in spiritual health, entrepreneurship, mindfulness, personal development, or recovery — just to name a few. While you’re sure to find benefits in any podcast you listen to, you may really connect with one on a topic that’s relevant to you.
Podcasts are available for anyone to download, but they’re usually geared to a particular type of listener. Most podcast hosts take a very personal and conversational tone. You may want to look for a show geared towards people like you — whether that’s by demographic, industry, or experience.
Because the conversations on podcasts are often anchored in personal experiences, the host (or guest) may have courageous conversations or discuss sensitive topics candidly. This might include body image issues, addiction and recovery, self-harm, domestic violence, and/or suicidal ideation.
If these mental health topics are sensitive for you, you may want to avoid podcasts that discuss them frequently.
Not all podcasts are scheduled or built alike. Depending on the host’s schedule and availability, shows may be updated daily, weekly, monthly, or on an ad hoc basis. If you’re the kind of person who likes to stay up-to-date on episodes, you may want to keep frequency in mind.
Podcasts range in length, and there is a wide variety to choose from. Some are as long as two hours, while others are just a few minutes in length.
You can match the podcast to your activity. Maybe a longer one is the right fit for a walk or commute, while a shorter one is perfect for your morning routine. Once you find the right one, episodes of the same show tend to be around the same length.
Most podcasts are set up as conversations (usually a back-and-forth) about a specific topic. However, there are podcasts that offer different formats.
There are some that you can call into (like a traditional radio show), content-based podcasts (like daily meditations), or podcasts that are designed to educate (like language-learning shows). You should choose the type of podcast that provides the most value for you.
Let well-being be the loudest voice in your ear
It can be hard to make time for self-care. However, with mental health podcasts covering every topic, from every angle, and in any duration, you can take your wellness practice on the go.
While they aren't a substitute for therapy sessions or mental health care, they can provide validation and insight into your own mental health. Choose any one that interests you and jump in. It may kick off your new mental fitness routine.
BetterUp Staff Writer