Whether as an outcome of the pandemic or a more general evolution of our culture, conversations about mental health are no longer taboo.
Inspired by professional athletes and high profile entertainment figures, Americans are increasingly willing to talk openly about mental health challenges. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, Black adults in the US are far more likely to experience feelings of sadness and hopelessness than their white counterparts.
Compounding this, lingering stigmatism, a lack of culturally competent providers, distrust, and underinsurance all combine to cause Blacks to access mental health support at lower rates than other Americans, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
5 Mental Health Podcast Worth a Listen
Listening to a podcast can never be a substitute for engaging with a licensed professional IRL. However, the current spate of Black-hosted podcasts focusing on the mental wellbeing of the Black community, offer a much needed platform for open, and at times painful, explorations of our emotional health.
This is a sample of five such podcasts in current production, that are worthy of note:
1. Man to Man.
Hosted by David Wasicki, a Los Angeles-based media executive, Man to Man is part of the Black Love network. Man to Man explores the complexities of being a Black male through conversations with a diverse range of guests: authors, musicians, actors, therapists, and interesting “hyphenates” (personal trainer-life coach-mixed martial arts practitioner).
Recent episodes have covered topics ranging from teen fatherhood to depression to healing from trauma. Wasicki has shared his own mental health journey with listeners, recounting the depression he experienced in his early 20s. His set piece question for guests (“What does masculinity mean to you?”) opens up the possibilities for wide-ranging and not frequently heard discussions.
Dr. Raquel Martin who holds a PhD in Medical and Clinical Psychology is the host of Mind Your Mental. A professor at Fisk University, a historically black university, Dr. Martin’s academic research focused on the race-based differences in adolescent mental health diagnoses.
The Mind Your Mental podcast mixes short, approximately 15-minute episodes with longer format shows that are conversations with other licensed psychotherapists. The shorter, action-oriented episodes dispense practical tools in areas such as goal setting, motivation, expressing emotions, navigating changes, and coping with stress.
Hosted by Celeste Viciere, this podcast started in 2018. Ms. Viciere is a therapist, mental health advocate and author based in Boston, MA.
Weekly episodes cover a broad range of topics (PTSD, “Superwoman Syndrome”, generational trauma, etc.), and are mixed with regular monthly features on relationships (with executive coach Jeff Grey) and “Getting Your Mind Right”, co-hosted by Jermaine Morris.
Ms. Viciere seeks to highlight a diversity of people who “empower the lives of others” (in her words), such as a recent episode that featured a community activist who founded a non-profit organization to support parents of children with autism.
Since 2019, the Atlanta-based podcast has been a platform for sharing experiences of what it means to be Black in America today. Hosted by Vince Bailey and Makeba Reed-Johnson, Black Mental Matters seeks to destigmatize conversations about mental health in the Black community.
Mr. Bailey is also known as “Vince the Voice”, referring to his announcer and emcee work. Ms. Reed-Johnson (aside from being a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champion), serves on the Board of Directors for notOK App, an app developed by a Black Georgia teen that lets others know when the user is experiencing a mental health emergency.
Show topics are wide-ranging, exploring the nexus between of-the-moment cultural issues (mental health and professional sports, critical race theory, the pandemic, religion) and the effect on our emotional wellbeing.
Hosted by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, an Atlanta-based Licensed Psychologist, Therapy for Black Girls supports women in their personal development through focused conversations on topics such as gynecologic health and reproductive rights, while taking on cultural touchstones such as the portrayal of Black women on reality TV shows and romance novels.
Dr. Harden Bradford’s first book (“Sisterhood Heals”) is expected in 2023. Despite its title, Therapy for Black Girls also explores topics that are relevant to a much wider audience, such as recent episodes on using sound meditation and breathwork to build mental resilience and the exploration of African traditional religions.
If you know of other podcasts dealing with mental health we should check out, please let us know in the comments.