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7 podcasts about invisible illnesses for Mental Health Awareness Week

7 podcasts about invisible illness


7 podcasts about invisible illnesses for Mental Health Awareness Week

Podcasts have always been the platform for voices that often go unheard, shining a light on topics overlooked by mainstream media. Invisible illnesses, which don’t manifest visibly but significantly impact daily life and mental health, account for approximately 70-80% of disabilities. In the UK alone, over 10 million people navigate the challenges posed by these conditions. From neurodivergent conditions to autoimmune disorders, chronic pain, and fatigue syndromes, the spectrum is vast and often misunderstood.

I’ve curated (or should I say ‘prescribed’) a selection of seven podcasts that cover different conditions. Whether you’re personally affected by an invisible disability or know someone who is, these shows serve to raise awareness and cultivate understanding.

Invisibly Ill

In 2023, three Kiwi women in their thirties started a podcast on the ups and downs of their respective experiences with invisible illnesses simply because they couldn’t find one. And in fact, there aren’t a lot of shows out there that don’t focus on one specific disability, or that aren’t affiliated with charities or support groups, which is why I think this is an ideal starting point for anyone seeking understanding and connection in their journey. Laura, Jenny, and Maeghan cope with separate illnesses (post-surgery chronic back pain, GERD, and triple-positive breast cancer), but what is great is that they always find common ground in the challenges they face daily. From diagnosis to recovery and coping with side effects, they openly share personal stories and mental health updates, creating a safe space through sometimes hopeful, sometimes raw talk. If you’ve ever heard the dismissive phrase ‘but you don’t look sick’, or any of its variables (‘it’s all in your mind’ and ‘you’re probably just stressed’ being strong contenders), you’ll love this as much as I do. Listen now >>

The Sick Gaze

Healthcare can pose extra challenges for women, particularly those with chronic illnesses. That’s precisely why we need more podcasts like The Sick Gaze, which explores how long-lasting invisible disorders affect women’s well-being, relationships, and self-identity. The cover art is what first drew me in—because it literally is just that: art. The more I look at it, the more it reminds me of a pop art, female version of Edward’s Munch ‘The Scream’. The title of this show is inspired by Laura Mulvey’s feminist concept of male gaze, which I also think is brilliant. Hosted by Molly Dickerson, a student in Public Health and Medical Humanities, the show centres mostly on young people and opts for interviews over casual conversations. This podcast advocates for a fairer healthcare system by tackling not just gender but also racial disparities, another issue that is unfortunately frequently overlooked. I thought the ‘Hear Black Women!’ episode was a powerful and very important account on that topic. Listen now >>

The Neurodivergent Woman

About 15-20% of people are neurodivergent, so there is a good chance you might know someone who is. Michelle Livock, a clinical neuropsychologist, and Monique Mitchelson, a (neurodivergent!) clinical psychologist, reached a pivotal moment in their careers when they recognized the disparity between the high number of patients seeking their assistance for neurodivergence and the limited education they had received on the matter. When I listened to the first episode of the podcast, I found this take very refreshing, as it’s something of a rarity to witness health professionals openly acknowledge their limitations. I truly believe anyone who goes out of their way to learn something because they’re genuinely curious about it is likely to be great at passing on that knowledge in a way that will actually stick to your brain. There is evidence that women are more likely to be misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed for neurodivergence, and Michelle and Monique focus on bridging the gender gap by helping women to embrace their brain’s distinct wiring rather than feeling constrained by it. From Autism to ADHD and beyond, they delve into topics like identification, sensory regulation, education and expression. Listen now >>

Lessons in Dyslexic Thinking

Who said people with learning disabilities couldn’t be some of the smartest in their field? Dyslexia is often portrayed in a negative light, and it’s a real shame that we don’t hear as much about the unique strengths that come with dyslexic thinking. Lateral thinking. Visual memory. A knack for creative problem-solving. All things I could use more of, to be honest. Hosted by Kate Griggs, the founder of global charity Made By Dyslexia, Lessons in Dyslexic Thinking explores how dyslexic thinking can be harnessed to bring about positive change in our world, offering an uplifting perspective on this invisible disability. In every episode, Kate interviews accomplished individuals spanning a wide array of fields, ranging from chefs and make-up artists to CEOs and celebrities you might not have known were dyslexic, like Hollywood actor Michael Provost. One of the first episodes even focuses on how UK intelligence agencies use dyslexic thinking to protect the country! Need I say more? Listen now >>

A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic and a Podcast

A winning combination indeed! Just as the podcast title suggests, Gabe grapples with bipolar disorder while Michelle battles schizophrenia. On paper, this already sounds like an explosive cocktail personality-wise. But just wait until you hear Gabe and Michelle tease each other for 40 minutes straight. The two have known each other IRL for a long time, so together, they have the type of ‘frenemies’ banter (their words, not mine) that’s sure to keep you laughing. If you’re anything like me and serious discussions about difficult topics tend to exacerbate your pre-existing worries, this show is for you. The high energy and sense of humour brought by the co-hosts really balances out the gravity of the matters being tackled. Both of them are champions for mental health awareness on and off the mic, so they are also very knowledgeable and encouraging. You can really tell they have been doing this weekly podcast for many years—if you want to dig up the first seasons, you’ll find them tucked away in their website’s archive section! Listen now>>


We’re all familiar with UTIs, but what about chronic UTIs? CUTI is a narrative, short podcast about Chronic Urinary Tract Infections, an illness predominantly affecting women that is often misconstrued or questioned by medical practitioners due to its recent acknowledgment. First of all, it’s really rare to find health podcasts that aren’t conversational. CUTI has a mix of heartfelt patient’s accounts, pretty ground-breaking expert insights considering how under the radar this disease is, and well-written scripted voiceover. I don’t have any links with the topic, and yet that storytelling element dragged me from the first episode, and I found myself wanting to learn more about this condition. Not only does this series underscore the misconceptions surrounding chronic UTIs, but it also addresses the significant waste of time and energy resulting from them, between misdiagnoses, dismissive treatment, and delayed recognition—an endless cycle that anyone with an invisible disease can relate to (yes, we’re all traumatized). Listen now >>

This Podcast Will Kill You

Ever wished to delve into the historical backdrop of a disease and unravel how it shapes our current understanding of it? If you’re a science nerd, or even a history nerd, you’re bound to love This Podcast Will Kill You. While not exclusively focused on invisible illnesses, this conversational podcast features numerous episodes addressing conditions like long COVID, vision impairment or lupus—lesser-known/more ‘recent’ diseases your GP might not be so knowledgeable about. Each episode of this show kicks off with a firsthand account from a patient and concludes with an exploration of the current global status of the disease and promising new treatments, ending on a positive note. Co-hosts Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke, both accomplished scientists, do a fantastic job at making medical research accessible, and even manage to sprinkle some humour along the way. When I first listened to the podcast, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities in dynamic and format with iHeart’s Stuff You Missed in History Class, and that’s a compliment because it’s one of the first podcasts I fell in love with. Listen now >>

EloiseEloïse Bertil is an emerging French-English bilingual podcast producer, marketer and writer from Reunion Island, now based in London.


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