It can be really helpful to hear about the experiences of others who are going through the same thing.
Rhys Smart, who lives in Dudley, raises awareness and encourages people to talk about mental health through his podcast Mentally Obsessed. Since 2018 he has been sharing his passion for Korean pop music and gaming with like-minded listeners.
And he has also been using his podcast to open up conversations about mental health after facing his own struggles.
Rhys, who has been diagnosed with emotional dysregulation disorder, says recording the podcast had had a positive impact on his own wellbeing.
“I started Mentally Obsessed with an American friend named Julia who shared a similar interest.
“We both were fans of the K-pop band Blackpink and decided to start talking about our obsession with the band. After undergoing a massive mental health battle, and feeling hopeless and that I had no purpose, I looked for ways to be creative, and bring awareness to mental health and my disorder.
“Not only did it give me some purpose, it also kept me distracted as I was always getting frequent suicidal thoughts.”
His podcast features interviews with a wide range of guests, most of them successful voice actors from video games such as Resident Evil, Halo, Valorant and World of Warcraft.
“I’d describe my podcast as a way for listeners to learn about the voice actors behind their characters but also linking it into mental health and how they maintain it, always being in the public eye. I also link the podcast to my current obsessions, in which I always look for voice actors who are tied into that obsession. Ever since childhood, I have always been somewhat obsessed with certain games such as Halo and World of Warcraft. Listeners are always able to talk about those obsessions without being judged.
“Gaming is a massive reason why I started a podcast and my love for Korean pop music, although, I don’t talk about K-pop as much anymore, it has recently been directed toward gaming, but I always found it fascinating to talk to the voice actors who portrayed some of their greatest characters.
“I’d scour the internet watching interviews and press tours of actors talking about their respected characters and the blood sweat and tears they put into portraying that character. It has always been fascinating to dive into the mind of an actor in this industry,” explains the 23-year-old.
He has gained a loyal following of listeners since starting the podcast and he says they “always respond with love and kindness” when he releases a new episode. Rhys has also received plenty of support from his interview guests and actors working within the gaming industry.
“What has been a really good response is motivation from actors who have always told me to continue following my dreams in interviewing and podcast hosting. I am always grateful to Patty Mattson – the voice behind Sylvanas Windrunner, World of Warcraft – who would get her community involved, but also would check in from time to time, keeping me motivated, striving to do better, which has always bought interaction and I always thrive on building a community.
“I am truly blessed to have a community and to also get others involved and included, as loneliness is another reason why a community is important to me. I am forever grateful to the actors who share and tell their fans to listen to the podcast. I am always grateful to those who take their time out of their busy schedule to talk to me, for free, might I add. They give a person who has dreams a chance to grow and be successful. I am forever grateful for giving me the opportunity to nerd out with them and talk about what we’re passionate about,” says Rhys.
Interviewing guests is one of his favourite parts of hosting a podcast.
“I get a little anxious before recording an episode with a guest. They always reassure me and when we get talking, believe it or not, they are like friends. But what I enjoy the most is being able to tell them how much they inspire a generation of other actors. I enjoy the adrenaline of interviewing voice actors, it’s a good buzz.”
Rhys has also noticed the benefits the podcast has brought to his own mental health.
“Podcasting has helped tremendously with my mental health. I still have a long way to go in terms of my recovery, but one day at a time. I feel a bit more confident now joining a Zoom call, or a Discord call with the actor and talking about their games or project, it has helped a lot. I rarely think of suicide, but when I do, I search the web for actor agents and start drafting emails to send to them and that always gives me hope and reassurance that I am worthy, and regardless of how successful my podcast is, it always helps,” says Rhys.
His dream is to conduct live interviews and to have the opportunity to become a comic convention panel host.
“I’d love to one day host some sort of live interview and meet and greets with other guests so their fans can meet them on a personal level. The ultimate goal is to turn the podcast into a media outlet and get more people talking about mental health awareness. I want Mentally Obsessed to create other content outside podcasting too, perhaps maybe a YouTube channel to do creative interviews with guests,” says Rhys.
He believes his podcast will appeal to other people with a passion for gaming and he hopes it will inspire others.
The podcast can be listened to by searching Mentally Obsessed on Spotify, Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts as well as other podcast services. His interviews are also available on his website mentallyobsessed.com.