Radio and Podcasts are Helping to Destigmatize Mental Health Issues 

The highly expected lunar eclipse is this week, and it could put many people in a darker and more secluded mood than they are used to.

It’s a good thing that May is Mental Health Awareness month.

Observed since 1949 and started by the Mental Health America organization, the month of May is designated for recognizing mental health issues. 

Since the pandemic began, more and more people have talked about the importance of good mental health and this year’s theme is “Back to Basics,” which provides foundational knowledge about mental health and its conditions. The theme also provides information about what people can do if they believe they are struggling.

According to Mental Health America, the delays in treatment for mental health conditions are longer than for many other health conditions. 

“Stigma is a major barrier. We’ve got to move mental health out of the shadows,” said Dr. Barbara Bazron, D.C.’s Director of the Department of Behavioral Health. It was also last week that D.C. introduced a new 24/7 mental health hotline that they are urging people to use.

Bazron says mental health experts estimate that one in five people suffers from serious mental illness and that having somewhere to get help could reduce problems from drug abuse to violent crime.

This past Friday morning, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge interrupted all the UK’s radio stations to share an important message. William and Kate apologized for the interruption as they took to the airwaves of over 500 stations and called on the nation to “lift someone out of loneliness”.

As part of the 60-second broadcast for this year’s Mental Health Minute, William said: “We can all feel lonely sometimes… we can feel it for many different reasons.”

“But we can all help each other feel less isolated and more connected,” Kate continued.

“f you think someone you know might felt lonely, just give them a ring, send them a text or knock on the door,” the Duchess suggested. “Maybe suggest meeting for a coffee or a walk,” William added.

The Royal couple was wise to use the radio to get their message across. Data shows 89% of the population in the UK, or 49.5 million adults, listened to live radio on average for 20.3 hours per week. 

In the United States, an astonishing 83 % of Americans, aged 18 and older, listen to the radio every week. 

Radio and broadcasting have been no stranger to covering a variety of mental healthcare issues to help those who are struggling. Whether someone wants straight science, apt advice, or lots of laughs, here are a few of the best mental health podcasts to help people get through the year.

“The Nod” 

The Nod pitches itself as a podcast that shares the stories and experiences of African Americans that “don’t get told anywhere else.” Topics range from lighthearted histories of hip-hop trends to the emotional impact of famous writers like Toni Morrison on generations of young Black writers and professionals. 

“Yeah No, I’m Not OK”

Yeah No, I’m Not Ok, a new podcast by Diane Guerrero in collaboration with LAist Studios, is here to open up the conversation about mental health. Every week we will explore issues that youth face all over the world (addiction, depression, anxiety, suicide, radical self love, and much much more) through conversations with friends, colleagues, activists, artists and health care professionals, all people who have gone through something life-changing and are now healing from it. 

“Mental Illness Happy Hour”

Host Paul Gilmartin hopes to change the stigma of not talking about mental health issues with his lauded podcast, “Mental Illness Happy Hour.” Gilmartin interviews a variety of noted figures and celebrities about their experiences with mental illness or trauma. His interviews run the gamut from tackling the link between sexual assault and PTSD with successful attorneys to uncovering how being raised by a parent with alcohol use disorder can affect you in many invisible ways.

“The Hilarious World of Depression”

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, yet often stigmatized by society. The Hilarious World of Depression is a series of frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with top comedians who have dealt with this disease, hosted by veteran humorist and public radio host John Moe. Join guests such as Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Richter, and Jen Kirkman to learn how they’ve dealt with depression and laughed along the way. There are a variety of actual stories about the difficulties of depression, which shows how the condition can look different for everyone.

“2 Dope Queens”

Sometimes all you need is a good laugh to help your mood. Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are two Black BFFs who host their live comedy show in Brooklyn. “2 Dope Queens” showcases their longtime friendship and famously witty banter. No topic is off-limits to them or their wide array of celebrity guests. Topics range from relationships and stereotypes with Michelle Obama to sexual health with stars from popular TV shows.

Individuals may have a more difficult time understanding the risk factors for mental health condition for themselves. Mental Health America recommends people take the time to ask themselves about their thoughts, feelings and behaviors to see if this is part of a pattern that may be caused by a mental health condition.

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