There has been a growing warning from the mental health community that the pandemic is taking a toll on mental health too, with problems appearing among people of all ages. Perhaps one fix could be more podcast listening. The music and podcast listening app Deezer commissioned a study in the U.S. to see how people are using podcasts to cope and it found most are using spoken word programs to improve their mood, avoid loneliness, and even to set a romantic ambiance.
Deezer polled streaming audio users about how they are using the medium during a period when normal life habits have been disrupted. It wanted to understand how users were looking after their mental health while isolating and the role podcasts were playing in their lives. In the United States the answer is that 38% of respondents in the U.S. listen to podcasts to improve their mood. The data also showed content that focuses on relaxation, mindfulness and self-improvement helped 53% of American users get through the lockdown.
“Audio content can help lift us up when we are feeling lonely,” said Dr. Sarita Robinson, Principal Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the U.K.’s University of Central Lancashire. “It is helpful as it breaks the silence which can become overwhelming. Podcasts act as a distraction and fill the time until we have the next phone call or video chat.”
Podcasts may also be helping people’s love lives. Two-thirds of men said they are streaming more romantic content compared to 41% of women. Deezer says on its platform, relationship podcasts have seen a 145% increase in daily active users worldwide since the start of March.
“The rise in romantic audio content during isolation could be driven by increases in people’s oxytocin levels,” explained Robinson. “During times of stress we are more likely to produce the love hormone oxytocin, and this in turn leads to more ‘tend-and-befriend’ behaviors.”
Gen Z and Millennials data reflects they are suffering the most, so they are searching for self-care and well-being content to be able to sleep, chill out, and make positive changes in their lives. But it is adults between the ages of 35 and 44 that were most likely to be listening to more podcasts. Among this group the survey showed 47% said they are listening to podcasts more often.
OnePoll conducted the global research among 11,000 audio content streamers in eight markets including Brazil, France, Germany, Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and the U.K. during April. Their takeaway was Americans are roughly three times as likely to use podcasts to combat loneliness, compared to some European countries.
Overall, people are listening twice as long today compared to the beginning of March. Daily podcast listening now clocks in at 40 minutes on average compared to 20 minutes pre-pandemic.
“No one is immune to depression and loneliness. The good news is that audio content can provide some relief when we need it the most,” said Alexander Holland, Deezer’s Chief Content Officer. “That’s why we curate dedicated playlists and channels for our users. After all, we’re in this together.”