Day 6

John Moe wants to connect people struggling with mental health in his new podcast

John Moe hopes his new podcast, Depresh Mode, will help those struggling with mental health issues feel like they’re a little less alone.

Depresh Mode tackles depression, anxiety, trauma and more, in a year unlike any other

John Moe, the author and podcaster behind The Hilarious World of Depression, has launched a new show all about mental health. (American Public Media)

John Moe hopes his new podcast will help those struggling with mental health issues feel a little less alone.

"It's all in the purpose of ... making them feel like they're part of a team, making them feel like they're part of a movement of people just saying, 'You know what? It's dumb to keep this stuff in the dark,'" he said.

In Depresh Mode, Moe talks about depression, anxiety, trauma and more in interviews with celebrities and experts.

The show follows his similarly-themed podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression, and book of the same title.

"Everything that guides my career, my professional life is: 'What can I do to help?'" he told Day 6 host Brent Bambury.

"It seemed like starting a show, starting a conversation about the kind of mental health experiences that people are running across right now in 2021 was the best way to go."

With mental health deteriorating as a result of the pandemic, the podcast's release is timely.

Actor Patton Oswalt is featured on the first episode of Depresh Mode. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

'The bond of common experience'

Before launching Depresh Mode, Moe — a well-known American writer and radio broadcaster — says that he was considering leaving his career in media altogether. 

He points to the stress of counting downloads and clicks on his work as a driving reason.

"It seems like it went in the opposite direction of just trying to make something good that people will like," Moe said.

But after reading about high employment burnout rates caused by the pandemic, and considering the collective trauma of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, Moe refocused and decided to dive into people's personal stories surrounding mental health.

Despite its subject matter, Depresh Mode — perhaps signalled by the title's playful pun on the band Depeche Mode — aims to bring some levity to the conversation around mental health.

Moe says for as long as he can remember, he has been a "comedy nerd" — thanks, in part, to his parents. As immigrants to the United States, they learned about U.S. culture through comedy in TV series like The Carol Burnett Show and All In The Family, he explains.

"They couldn't understand America in a Norman Rockwell kind of way. They couldn't understand it in a Richard Nixon kind of way. But they could see what's funny about it. They could see what's interesting about it," he said.

"I've always kind of applied that lens to things myself."

Depression, anxiety and trauma is no different, he argues.

"It's the bond of common experience," said Moe. "I think any time you get people talking about something that they went through together, especially if it's something difficult, some laughs will emerge from it."

"If you get old soldiers together talking about being in battle, if you listen to them, if you overhear them, eventually you'll hear some laughter."

Comedian, author and podcaster Kelsey Darragh is featured in the episode two of Depresh Mode. (Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

Sharing personal experiences

Depresh Mode's first episode features comedian and actor Patton Oswalt discussing his own experiences with depression.

Moe interviewed Oswalt for his previous podcast, but ultimately decided not to air the conversation following the death of Oswalt's wife in 2016.

"He is guest number one on this, because I wanted to see how he is a person with depression in his history," Moe said. 

"And as another friend, Peter Sagal from Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me said, people with depression have a habit of making a mountain out of a molehill. So what do they do when they run into a mountain?"

Oswalt's approach, Moe recalls, was to "walk through" the pain, acknowledge that it's something that you don't get over and share the humour that emerged from it on stage.

"He's sort of a perfect guest in my mind, because he is one of the funniest humans to walk the earth, but it's from a place of humanity. It comes from this place of connecting with other people," said Moe.

Written by Jason Vermes. Produced by Laurie Allan.

Hear full episodes of Day 6 on CBC Listen, our free audio streaming service.

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