5 TED Talks About Mental Health

Mental Health TED Talks

  • The Voices in My Head: Eleanor Longden
  • The World Needs All Kinds of Minds: Temple Grandin
  • Art Can Heal PTSD’s Invisible Wounds: Melissa Walker
  • Why Some People are More Altruistic Than Others: Abigail Marsh
  • Depression, the Secret We Share: Andrew Solomon

5 TED Talks About Mental Health
TED Talks range from short 6 minute mini-speeches to full 18 minute presentations, with a number of lengths in-between, and mental health is one of the most highly-featured health-related topics. Mental health-related TED Talks run the gamut from motivational personal stories to technical discussions of psychiatric medications or functional MRIs that show how our brains work, whether we have a mental health condition or not. The TED lineup is constantly evolving. Here are five talks on mental health that are worth watching.

The Voices in My Head: Eleanor Longden

With nearly 4 million views, Eleanor Longden’s 2013 talk describing her many-year journey to survive after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Longden was about to start college when she began to hear voices. The voices were benign at first, but then they became cruel, ordering her to do things, eventually turning her life upside-down. She was eventually hospitalized, drugged, and abandoned. Eventually overcoming a system that didn’t know how to help her, Longden says that learning to live with the voices has been her key to survival.

The World Needs All Kinds of Minds: Temple Grandin

World-famous autistic genius Temple Grandin describes how her thought processes differ from many others, including her ability to “think in pictures.” Grandin presents important concepts in her development such as a strong family structure, social rules, and education that responds to individuals on the autism spectrum. Grandin urges education that is responsive and which makes the most of the strengths and abilities of those with autism.

Art Can Heal PTSD’s Invisible Wounds: Melissa Walker

Arts therapist Melissa Walker provides a ten-minute talk about post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) experienced by war veterans and how creating art can help heal the trauma and relieve symptoms. Walker discusses her grandfather, a Korean war veteran, who suffered silently before the condition was understood. Art creation enables veterans with PTSD to express their trauma and heal, offering an alternative to the silent suffering of the past.

Why Some People are More Altruistic Than Others: Abigail Marsh

Psychology researcher Marsh describes how her interest in people who are willing to go the “extra mile” for others emerged after an auto accident. An unnamed stranger ran across four lanes of traffic to rescue her from her stalled car. Marsh presents her research in people who ranged from psychopaths with no empathy for others to highly altruistic people willing to donate a kidney to a total stranger. She discovered real physical differences in the brain, notably the amydala, the part of the brain that helps us to recognize fear. Marsh believes that people are becoming more altruistic, not less, presenting a hopeful future vision.

Depression, the Secret We Share: Andrew Solomon

Writer Andrew Solomon describes his own experience with depression as well as his recovery and world travels, interviewing many others who also suffered from depression. Solomon makes the case that happiness is not the opposite of depression, vitality is. A loss of vitality is the hallmark of depression, or losing interest in the activities of daily life.

TED provides hundreds of talks related to mental health. The subjects include technical discussions of neuroscience and inspirational speeches from people who have coped with mental illness, are in recovery, or who have discovered ways to live positively while still experiencing mental health problems. The TED website organizes talks by topic, including mental health, and includes blog posts for further information.

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