Review: HEAR MYSELF THINK Podcast, Series 2

Bitesize audio-theatre exploring mental health

By: Nov. 18, 2022
Review: HEAR MYSELF THINK Podcast, Series 2

Review: HEAR MYSELF THINK Podcast, Series 2 During lockdown, Hear Myself Think's mini audio-theatre podcasts exploring mental health offered solace to listeners in more than 25 countries.

Titles like Get Outside with Ali, Make a Hot Drink with Kim, and Draw a Self Portrait with Thema were a godsend for many under-represented people trapped in their homes in the UK.

Now, series two of the bitesize broadcasts (only 10 minutes in duration) have been released. Coming from diverse perspectives, they're aimed at communities - specifically black, Asian, LGBTQ+, disabled and neurodivergent - less likely to get support for mental health issues. Episodes are intimate, with one main character speaking directly to the audience. Sometimes there are additional voices, but the strength of the project is being able to closely connect with one key actor.

Having recently been diagnosed with Adult ADHD, I was keen to see if Hear Myself Think's approach informs and calms, as advertised.

Steered by playwright/creator Olly Gully, producer Nur Khairiyah (who is also the announcer) and dramaturg Kaleya Baxe, fifteen new playwrights, directors and actors have created the new self-help programmes.

While a number of theatres and creatives have been sorely hit by reductions in funding from Arts Council England, Hear Myself Think is blessed. As well as money from ACE, the south London initiative has attracted support from other partners: Streatham Space Project, The Arts Centre Hounslow, Rich Mix, Quay Arts and Pirate Studios. Thanks also goes to volunteers and staff at MOSAIC Clubhouse and Arts Network, who acted as advisors.

Episode 1, Ground Yourself with Eva, written by Singaporean journalist Tessa Kaur and directed by Lexine Lee, is a simple tale about Eva (expressively played by Ella Cumber), who's locked herself in the bathroom of a café after a public row with her partner. Eva uses various techniques - removing herself from a stressful situation, grounding herself against a wall, and deep breathing (in for four, hold for four, out for four) - so she can get control of the situation.

The second episode, Rehydrate with Callum, is another effective story appealing to a younger audience. Joseph Vaiana is believable party-goer Callum, who's spent all weekend drinking and clubbing. He feels awful, is sick (wonderful sound-effects from sound designer and composer Kieran Lucas) and learns that drinking lots of fresh water will make him feel a whole lot better. He also works out that all the partying is "getting a bit much" and that it's "good sometimes knowing who you really are, your attitude, and what you think about things".

Episode three, Make a Stir Fry with Bisi, is jollier than I expected, with an engaging Omolabake Jolaoso as high-spirited African woman, Bisi. While she chops up vegetables for a stir fry, she relates how a rude woman upsets her - "You're in the way, love" - and how difficult it can be getting an Uber if you're in a wheelchair. Regarded by some as an "inconvenience," Bisi wins out by doing things on her terms.

Make a Specialty Coffee with Erica (episode four) is about Erica (Nicola May Taylor) recovering from a breakup. Techniques to refocus your thoughts on the present and steps to overcome self-doubt are unveiled.

And episode five, Visualise the Rasas with Jasmine, is a poignant portrayal of classical dancer Jasmine (by an excellent Varshini Pichemuthu). After the separation of her parents, Jasmine has a crisis of confidence during a major Kathak dance competition. By recalling advice from her teacher and grandmother, she's able to stop being afraid and perform again.

I especially liked the philosophy of the nine rasas layered into the story. And I applauded the takeaway that reconnecting with creative endeavours you enjoy can help you overcome feelings of anxiety.

Despite enjoying the short podcasts, at times they can be a bit preachy and moralistic. Maybe if they were expanded into full-blown drama series, where lessons can unfold more subtlety, they'd be less brutally educational in tone.

Nonetheless, Hear Myself Think is a worthwhile endeavour for the ignored wanting help to improve their own wellbeing. As well as the short theatre experiences, there is mental health information and links on the website.

All episodes of Hear Myself Think audio-theatre podcasts are available free at, and on Spotify, Anchor, Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts.

Photo credit: Xanthus


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