The hosts of Positive News podcast:

Jun 24, 2024 | News

The doctor and journalist behind the new Positive News Podcast discuss mental health solutions, and why hope is an important part of wellbeing.

Dr Radha Modgil, journalist Seyi Rhodes and Positive News themselves describe themselves as fans of the media brand. They had followed it long before they were asked to host its podcast.

“Finding practical ways to solve problems is something you do every day as a doctor, so the problem-solving approach to news really resonates with me.” “Finding practical solutions to problems is something that you do every day as a GP, so the problem solving approach to news really resonates for me .”

The six-part series Developing Mental Wealth explores a variety of solutions for improving mental wellbeing. It focuses on communities in economically developed countries such as Guatemala, Peru, Nigeria and South Africa.

Rhodes, a well-known presenter of Channel 4’s Unreported World series, found the Positive News podcast a great way to combine his interests. “I’ve worked on mental health and I’ve worked all over the world,” he said. “So being able combine those two things was just brilliant .”

He also finds a solution-oriented approach to newsgathering appealing. “[Traditional] journalism is very problem-focused. When you [investigate] problems, you’ll also hear from people who are seeking solutions. It’s like the opposite of all the work I’ve done .”

Rhodes continues: “The way people learn about the world has changed.” There is a lot more space for journalism that focuses on solutions. People consume it much easier and more readily. I think it lends itself much better to a digital audience .”

Positive News podcast co-host Dr Radha modgil was familiar with Positive News before he began the podcast.

Each episode focuses on a solution, incorporating testimony from those who’ve experienced its benefits. Modgil and Rhodes provide context and analysis. The first episode focuses on the Heal by Hair initiative, founded by Marie-Alix de Putter. Her hairdresser helped de Putter cope with her husband’s murder in Cameroon twelve years ago when she was four months pregnant. The scheme has trained 150 hairdressers to date in Cameroon and Togo, and helped them overcome the social taboo that prevents people from discussing mental health.

Modgil describes it as “one of my favorite episodes.” “One thing that really struck me was how people [like de Putter] transformed their trauma and challenges into change and support for others .”

In this episode, Rhodes introduces ubuntu. This word means ‘humanity in the African Bantu language’ and begins with ‘I think that we are’. It is in stark contrast with Rene Descartes’ ‘cogito-ergo-sum’ (‘I am what I think’), the cornerstone of Western philosophy that grounds existence in individual self.

People are consuming solutions-focused journalism much more readily and easily.

“There’s a lot of projects that we saw, particularly in Africa, but even elsewhere, where there’s such a massive community approach to helping people overcome things like depression, anxiety and more serious problems,” Rhodes says. “And that seemed to feed through many of the projects we saw, especially in Africa but even elsewhere where there is such a massive communal approach to helping people overcome depression, anxiety, and more serious issues .”

Modgil finds the podcast’s approach – communities trying to help themselves, in areas where official mental health care is scarce – valuable. “Given that we live in uncertain times, I think a database of ideas which help people is really helpful,” she says. She says that the hairdressers’ project, for instance, is something we can all relate to. It’s also low-resource and low-cost “.

She argues that one of the most important insights from the podcast is the importance to find solutions that are tailored to the needs of a particular community. “It is not about importing a model from elsewhere. We need to understand what the people want, what they need locally, what their culture wants, and what the community understands .”

Seyi Rhodes, co-host of Positive News, says that the podcast offers the opportunity to connect the dots between multiple interests

In episode two, the power of a tailored strategy is revealed to be of particular benefit. Modgil and Rhodes visit a group in Peru who support the neurodivergent population of the country by hosting picnics.

Modgil hopes that the podcast will give listeners an injection of much-needed positivity. “We often get the distorted idea that everything is wrong in the world, and this impacts our emotional wellbeing,” says Modgil. “When we feel that nothing will change or improve, we can develop an apathy, and think: ‘What is the point?’ Nothing ever changes .’

“Hope is actually a really important strategy for wellbeing.” “Hope is a very important strategy for wellbeing .”

Main Image: Radha modgil and Seyi Rhodes, photographed by Sam Bush

The positive news podcast – new episode Seyi, Radha, and their friends travel to South Africa’s largest city to learn more about a narrative therapist technique called the Tree of Life. This technique has been so successful that it is now used in over 40 countries. Listen to the latest episode
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