Reading is a popular hobby for people of all ages. Reading different genres and losing yourself in a story can be a good way to escape the real world. Reading has been proven to reduce stress and is often an outlet for those with anxiety and depression. While reading may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are many self-help books and fictional stories about characters who learn to navigate their mental health. Below is a short list of some of the best books about mental health and why you should read them.
- The Body Keeps The Score
This book by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk talks about trauma and how recent studies have looked at how trauma affects our physical bodies. Trauma can compromise the body’s response to self-control, trust, pleasure, and more. Readers will be able to learn more about the depths of trauma and how certain types of therapy may help in healing. This book is also highly praised by those in the neuroscience and psychological communities.
- Maybe You Should Talk To Someone
Making the decision to go to therapy can be a tough one but books about mental health may help you to tackle this decision with a new resolve. In Maybe You Should Talk To Someone, Lori Gottlieb discusses her journey as a therapist going to therapy. She discusses how she works with her clients and what she learned from them along the way, as well as how this helped her to seek therapy for herself. The book features honesty and some humor to give a unique perspective of understanding that therapists are human too.
- Burnout: The Secret To Unlocking The Stress Cycle
Creating boundaries is something that takes practice and dedication. Burnout is a book dedicated to helping people close the stress cycle loop and prioritize their mental well-being. Emotional exhaustion, often referred to as burnout, can lead to damage to your sense of self and sense of accomplishment. Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, work to help you end burnout and limit stress in this book. The book contains helpful worksheets and research to show how breaking the stress cycle can improve your life.
- 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People
Books about mental health often focus on healing for a specific illness, but developing habits and stronger productivity skills can help people whether they have a mental illness or not. This book by Stephen R. Covey is probably one of the most popular ones on the list as many readers have loved the structure of developing habits in their lives. You will learn to look at life in new ways and become a more intentional person when reading 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. Covey prioritizes the fact that all of us should learn to have more balance in our lives and focus on our goals.
- Make Your Bed
Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven is all about simplicity. McRaven shares his experience while in the Navel Seal training program and how ten principles helped him to make it through this rigorous training. He also covers experiences others had during military service and how basic lessons may be able to change our lives and the world at large.
- Turtles All The Way Down
Aza Holmes is a teen who struggles with spiraling thoughts and anxiety in John Green’s Turtles All The Way Down. She tries to navigate being a good friend and good person while her thoughts continue to suffocate her. The book also talks about and breaks down aspects of human consciousness and personhood, which can be difficult for those who feel the world looks down on them for their mental illness. Green does a good job of showing that the angsty teen years may not just be for the purpose of attention.
- Girl In Pieces
Charlotte Davis has a lot of scars, the loss of her father, her best friend, and an absent mother. Kathleen Glasgow writes the story of Charlotte navigating the world after so much heartbreak and betrayal and how she puts herself back together. The book discusses trauma, learning to be gentle with yourself, at suicidal thoughts. Learning to trust yourself and others again may look like digging into the traumatic layers we thought we would never see again.
- Darius The Great Is Not Ok
Darius Kellner is a teen who has never felt like he fit in his home. Kellner has Persian roots from his mother’s side of the family, but he doesn’t know enough about the culture to feel like he meets his family’s expectations. Darius also struggles with clinical depression and his traditional grandparent don’t understand his need for medication. This book by Adib Khorram shows the struggles of dealing with mental health stigma and how teens can feel alienated from surrounding peers. Khorram shows how friends can make us feel seen and better than enough.
- How It Feels To Float
If you are looking for a very accurate portrayal of mental illness and emotional trauma and how that affects the mind, read How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox. The book discusses undiagnosed mental illness and the hereditary effects of trauma. Floating above your problems or maybe all the way away may be the only way main character Biz knows how to exist. How It Feels To Float talks about how to face the idea of “normal” or “ok” and how many people are more fragile than they seem.
Stevie has learned to avoid food and has a plan to get out of the treatment center on the anniversary of her brother’s death. A death she caused. Stevie struggles with a life-threatening eating disorder but also is navigating how the mistakes in our past affect our future. Books about mental health can discuss some heavy topics and Paperweight talks about eating disorders, suicide attempts, and death. Meg Haston tackles these topics for more mental health representation and shows how it feels to feel trapped in a body.
Why Mental Health Representation Matters
The stigma around mental health has started to lessen in recent years, but having fiction and non-fiction accurate representations will help to increase this awareness. Books about mental health and mental health representation help those who struggle to feel less alone. Mental health healing is possible and navigating everyday life with a mental illness is also possible.
Therapy, medication, and meditation can help you navigate emotions and become more fulfilled in your life. All types of people are worth it and their presence in the world is needed.