Brown Psychiatry Residency Launches Mental Health Podcast

"Bear In Mind" brings in expert guests from the medical field to tackle depression, anxiety, suicide and other must-talk-about topics.
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Dr. Tracey Guthrie and Dr. Camila Souza Alves Cosmo are the co-hosts of “Bear In Mind,” a mental health-focused podcast from Brown University’s general psychiatry residency program. (Photo by William Cosmo)

Commuters and podcast enthusiasts have a new topic to tackle on their daily streams.

On May 1, the general psychiatry residency program at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School launched the first episode of “Bear In Mind,” a new podcast focused on mental health. The podcast tackles common topics in mental health care, including suicide prevention, anxiety disorders and gaining access to treatment.

“We hope that this can be a tool that people can use to empower them with information,” says Dr. Camila Souza Alves Cosmo, a fourth-year psychiatry resident and co-host of the podcast along with Dr. Tracey Guthrie, training director of the residency program.

The idea was sparked two years ago, when Cosmo was in her second year of residency. At the time, the COVID-19 vaccine had recently become available, and Cosmo was frustrated watching misinformation about the vaccine proliferate both here and in her native Brazil.

“It was a moment that I was pretty frustrated with all the fake news that we had,” she says. “I’m originally from Brazil, and at the time as we saw around the world, the fake news was affecting health outcomes, really related to the COVID vaccine. I was kind of frustrated seeing what people were going through not having reliable information.”

Cosmo began pondering ways to tap into the resources at Brown and make reliable health information more accessible to the general public, especially in her specialty area of mental health. A fan of podcasts, she regularly listened to them during her commute from her home in Massachusetts. She pitched the idea of a mental health podcast to Guthrie, and it immediately was a hit.

“I had this kind of eureka-like moment,” she recalls.

The group spent nearly two years putting the podcast together, from gathering an editorial board to oversee production to selecting topics to purchasing equipment. Cosmo’s husband, who has a background in audio and video production, was recruited to help produce the podcast. Finally, on May 1 — just in time for the start of Mental Health Awareness Month — they released their first episode, a discussion of suicide prevention with Dr. Lauren Weinstock. Weinstock is a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown.

“The biggest challenge was finding time. Everyone that is working on the podcast, they are volunteering. And because everybody is so busy, it was hard to find time,” Cosmo says.

The goal, she says, is to release a new episode every month, eventually ramping up to a biweekly schedule. The next episode, focused on anxiety disorders and how to access care, will feature an interview with Dr. Kimberley Chiappone, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown and program chief for OCD and anxiety disorders at Butler Hospital.

Other topics they plan to tackle in the future include depression, substance use disorders, dementia, eating disorders and child and adolescent health. The team is also posting short clips from the episodes to its social media channels for easy sharing.

“Historically as a society, we have not been fair with people struggling with mental health illnesses,” Cosmo says. “There is a lot of stigma associated with that. And when you look into the information that is spread in social media and different platforms, there are many wonderful channels, but there are many times when we see information that is not reliable out there, and it is really concerning. I have seen through the clinical practice throughout these years how much our patients struggle with all the stigmas associated with mental health illnesses.”

In addition to demystifying the treatment around mental health, the team hopes to tackle common misperceptions. For example, in the most recent episode, Weinstock addressed the false idea that asking someone about suicide will cause them to consider it. In fact, studies have shown the opposite: that asking is someone feels suicidal can help to address suicidal thoughts and potentially save a life.

By promoting the podcast, Cosmo hopes to share the resources available at Brown with the wider public and normalize talking about mental health.

“Education’s such a powerful tool for social transformation. This is one of my passions. [I want] to try to make this information about mental health available for everyone,” she says.

“Bear In Mind” is available on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other platforms.



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