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Our Mental Health Week: The best podcasts for your mental health

Because sometimes all you need is some advice from Stephen Fry

Podcasts are like therapy for me.

When I started listening to them five years ago, I had no idea quite how profound an effect they would have on my mental health. Having the voice of someone more wise and calm in my ear, discussing their struggles and how they'd worked through them helped me to feel less alone in my darkest times.

Self-care is often synonomous with long baths and face masks, but there really is so much more to looking after yourself than spending £10 on body lotion in Boots.

Podcasts, alongside reading, are my favourite and most effective form of self-care becuase they give me something positive to listen to before an anxiety-provoking situation or after a stressful exam. Podcasts transport me to a world outside of my own: a world filled with positivity and inspiration that keeps me sane and lifts my mood.

So, here are my top podcast picks to help you out on the days when life feels too hard to handle.

Bryony Gordon's Mad World

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Bryony Gordon is a tireless campaigner for mental health and her podcast Mad World is a testament to that. If you're looking for a podcast that is specifically tailored towards mental health, Mad World is one of the best out there.

Guests have included Prince Harry, Stephen Fry and Fearne Cotton – all of whom discuss mental health in a candid and comforting way. Mad World helps me feel less alone when I'm in a bad place and so I hope it can help anyone else who is struggling with their mental health.

Ctrl Alt Delete

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Emma Gannon is an incredible interviewer and this is showcased in Ctrl Alt Delete. This is not a mental health podcast per se, but guests do often reveal details of low points in their lives and personal battles they've faced.

Emma covers an extensive range of topics on Ctrl Alt Delete ranging from how to be successful in business to how to be happy, and with over 100 episodes already recorded you will never be short of listening material. If you're looking for something to distract yourself in a low moment, Ctrl Alt Delete is the perfect choice.

Desert Island Discs

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It goes without saying that Desert Island Discs is one of the most incredible podcast series ever recorded. Kirsty Young has an almost meditative voice that could soothe even the most anxious of minds.

Guests discuss the real minutiae of their lives and regularly touch on mental health struggles or other low moments. However, the episodes always leave you with a comforting and inspirational moral which I find can lift your mood, even if only momentarily.

Grazia Life Advice

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Grazia Life Advice does what it says on the tin – it offers words of wisdom from successful people. Guests range from Giovanna Fletcher to Maya Jama, each with something interesting and useful to say about how to make the most of your life.

Again, while this isn't a podcast dedicated to mental health, I find it incredibly helpful at low points to give me new ideas on how to look after myself and make the best of a bad situation.

Happy Place

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Everyone knows who Fearne Cotton is, but not everyone knows about her mental health struggles – this is what I love about this podcast. Fearne interviews high profile celebrities about their lives and touches in particular on their mental wellbeing.

It's another podcast to make you feel less alone when you're in a bad place and I promise it really helps.

My favourite episode is the one with Stephen Fry, so if you're going to check it out definitely give that one a listen.

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day

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If you're going to listen to any of these podcasts, this is the one I'd recommend most.

Elizabeth Day interviews celebrities, writers and sports stars about what they've learnt from their failures. While this may seem like an odd podcast to suggest to someone struggling with their mental health, it helped me more than I ever anticipated.

Listening to people you perceive as 'having it all' discuss their low and unsuccessful moments reminds you that no one's life is perfect and while it may seem at times that all hope is lost, there is always something better waiting around the corner.

Nobody Panic

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A more light-hearted recommendation but a valuable one nonetheless.

Nobody Panic is hosted by 20-something comedians Stevie Martin and Tessa Coates and each week they tackle a topic that we all stress about but rarely talk about.

Mental health is touched on in the episodes but it's handled in a comedic and friendly way which helps as a distraction from the problem. Tessa and Stevie offer genuinely great advice interspersed with hilarious stories that lift your mood, even if only for a moment.

Table Manners with Jessie Ware

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If you're looking for a podcast which rarely touches on mental health but offers a distraction from everyday life, this is the show for you.

Jessie Ware and her mother Lennie host celebrities for dinner and talk about anything you could possibly imagine. With guests ranging from Sadiq Khan to Ed Sheeran, there is never a dull moment listening to this podcast.

Walking the Dog with Emily Dean

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Last, but certainly not least, is Walking the Dog with Emily Dean. This podcast, while not specifically mental health related, discusses emotional wellbeing at length.

The candid nature of the discussions recorded for the podcast make you feel as if you're just listening in on two friends having a chat. This has been particularly helpful for me on lonelier days and I hope it might be able to help you too.