Mad Chat is a podcast that unpacks what our pop culture is telling us about madness & mental health

Hosted by author Sandy Allen

New episodes every third Thursday

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“This promising new podcast explores the intersection of mental health and media” - The Av Club

“If you want to listen to people who have much more interesting things to say about mental health, I recommend Mad Chat … amazing guests.” - Bon Appétit’s Healthyish

“Therapists should prescribe it to their patients … Mad Chat isn't just fun (it is) or well done (it is) but I actually think it's necessary.” - Podcast The Newsletter

Listen to the show’s trailer:


Created by

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Sandy Allen


Sandy Allen (they/them) is an author who writes and speaks about madness, mental health, gender, and normalcy. Their debut book, A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story about Schizophrenia, was published by Scribner in 2018. An innovative work of reported literary nonfiction, AKOMP received critical acclaim, including being called one of the best nonfiction books of the year by Esquire. More info on AKOMP at:

Sandy’s essays and features have been published by Gay Magazine, Bon Appétit’s Healthyish, Lit Hub, Pop-Up Magazine, them., and BuzzFeed News, where they were previously a features editor. Sandy lives in the Catskills with their husband, dog, cats, sourdough starter, and garden beds. Sandy can be found on Twitter @sealln and Instagram @hellosandyallen, and at their website:


Lee Mengistu


Lee Mengistu (she/her) is a Grippo’s enthusiast and a freelance audio producer. In a very recent life, she studied at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism with work at The New York Times and NPR. Lee can be found at or on Twitter: @lee_mengi


Rachel Charlene Lewis

Social Media + Community Manager

Rachel Charlene Lewis (she/her) is a freelance writer, social media strategist, and the Senior Editor at Bitch. She has written about culture and identity for publications including i-D, Teen Vogue, Refinery29, Glamour, Autostraddle, Ravishly, SELF, The Mary Sue, and elsewhere. She watches Steven Universe, Bojack Horseman, and Tuca & Bertie on an endless loop. She is on Twitter and Instagram, always, as @RachelCharleneL.


Alex Cornacchia

Website Manager / Episode Transcriber

Alex Cornacchia (she/her) is a writer, editor, dancer, and sometimes choreographer based in Chicago. She is one half of the surreal newsletter Nocturnal Fez (subscribe to that here) and is currently working on a children’s book about a garden. Follow her on Twitter (@littlest_acorn) or Instagram (@alexcornacchia).


Logo & Graphic Design by Chris Ritter

Website Design
by Natasia Hanratty


Click the images below for more info on past episodes, including transcriptions and resources/recommendations from Sandy




Episode 1 (May 2) - Hannah Giorgis

Hannah Giorgis (she/her) is a staff writer at The Atlantic, and her work has appeared in publications including New York Times magazine, Pitchfork, Bon Appétit, and The Guardian.

Episode 2 (May 23) - Meredith Talusan

Meredith Talusan (she/they) is an award-winning author and journalist who has written for The Guardian, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, WIRED, SELF, Condé Nast Traveler among many other publications, and has contributed to several essay collections. She has received awards from GLAAD, The Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. She is also the founding executive editor of them., Condé Nast’s LGBTQ+ digital platform, where she is currently contributing editor. Her debut memoir, Fairest, is forthcoming from Viking / Penguin Random House.


Mad Chat - Caroline selfie.jpg

Episode 3 (June 13) - Caroline Mazel-Carlton

Caroline Mazel-Carlton (she/her) has laid her head in a number of places, from Indiana jail cells to Texas psychiatric units, but now enjoys a freer existence as Director of Training for the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community.  She has been re-defining peer roles in diverse mental health settings and parts of the world for over a decade.  Her work with “Alternatives to Suicide” and the Hearing Voices Network has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Foreign Policy and O Magazine.  She is passionate about re-claiming cultural and spiritual wisdom traditions for navigating extreme states and is studying to become a rabbi.

Episode 4 (July 3) - Amanda Chicago Lewis

Amanda Chicago Lewis (she/her) mostly reports on the marijuana industry and the war on drugs. She's written for Rolling Stone, GQ, WIRED, and the Wall Street Journal.



Episode 5 (July 25) - Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang (she/her) is a novelist and essayist. She is the author of the New York Times-bestselling essay collection, The Collected Schizophrenias (2019), for which she won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. Her debut novel, The Border of Paradise, was called a Best Book of 2016 by NPR and one of the 25 Best Novels of 2016 by Electric Literature. She was named by Granta as one of the “Best of Young American Novelists” in 2017 and won the Whiting Award in 2018. Born in the Midwest to Taiwanese parents, she lives in San Francisco, and can be found at and on Twitter @esmewang.


Episode 6 (august 15) - Sarah kay

Sarah Kay (she/her) is a New Yorker. a poetry writer and reader. an educator. the founder and co-director of Project VOICE. a witty banter enthusiast. a postcard lover. a foodie. a playwright. a singer. a songwriter. a photographer. a best-selling author of four books of poetry including B, No Matter the Wreckage, The Type, and All Our Wild Wonder. a celebrated performer in over 25 countries. an editor for Write Bloody Publishing. a Gemini. a mediocre driver at best. a musical theater geek. a smoothie expert. the daughter of a Taoist mother and a Brooklynese father. a hapa. less cool than her little brother. an alum of the United Nations International School and a graduate of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. an alum of Brown University. an alum of Brown University Graduate School’s Masters Program in the Art of Teaching Secondary English. a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Grinnell College. on twitter here. on facebook here.


Episode 7 (September 5) - NICHOLE PERKINS

Nichole Perkins is a writer from Nashville, Tennessee, currently based in Brooklyn. Around the internet, Nichole writes about the intersections of pop culture, race, sex, gender, and relationships. Her memoir Sometimes I Trip On How Happy We Could Be will be coming soon from Grand Central Publishing. It will cover black womanhood and sexuality, online messageboard communities, and the effects of pop culture on female desire. Nichole is a 2017 Audre Lorde Fellow at the inaugural Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat and a 2017 BuzzFeed Emerging Writers Fellow. She is also 2016 Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow for poetry. She has participated in the Napa Valley Writers' Conference (2010, 2013). She co-hosts Thirst Aid Kit, a podcast about pop culture and desire, with Bim Adewunmi. She is also one of the hosts of The Waves, a podcast that examines news and culture through a feminist lens. Both podcasts are at Slate. Her first collection of poetry, Lilith, but Dark, was published by Publishing Genius in July 2018. Although her first writing love is poetry, Nichole also writes personal essays, cultural criticism, short stories, and screenplays. She loves Prince, romance novels, and the television show Frasier.


Episode 8 (september 26) - yassir lester

Yassir Lester (he/him) is a stand up comedian, writer and actor on the Showtime series Black Monday, and co-host of the podcast My Brother’s Sneaker. He has previously worked on Making History, Champions, The Carmichael Show, Girls, and Black Dynamite.


Episode 9 (october 17) - JONAH BOSSEWITCH

Jonah Bossewitch, PhD (he/him) is an educator, technologist and journalist who lives and works in New York City. He currently works at Vibrant Emotional Health as the Director of Software Architecture and is on the faculty of the Institute for the Development of Human Arts. Jonah studied Communications at Columbia University and in 2016 defended his doctoral dissertation, Dangerous Gifts: Towards a New Wave of Psychiatric Resistance, which examines significant shifts in the politics of psychiatric resistance and mental health activism. He earned a masters in Communication and Education at Teachers College (’07) and graduated from Princeton University (’97) with a BA Cum Laude in Philosophy, and certificates in Computer Science and Cognitive Studies. He blogs at



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