The words of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore to Harry Potter speaks a volume about mental health. Just because it is happening inside your head should not mean that it is not real, right? The compelling stigma surrounding mental health continues to be a constant battle of raising awareness and dispelling it.
Although the battle has been fought in vain for years, it’s 2020 and the world is slowly coming to terms with mental health issues.
We have overcome the addressing stage to a great extent. As of now, countless mental health books are trying to unpick the nuances in mental health conditions and how they manifest in many different ways.
Because as hard it is to admit that mental health does affect us in every aspect of our lives, it is as true as daylight.
Best Mental Health Books: What’s On Your Bookshelves?
- 1 Best Mental Health Books: What’s On Your Bookshelves?
- 1.1 How To Stay Sane In An Age Of Division by Elif Shafak
- 1.2 Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
- 1.3 Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
- 1.4 Stop Hiding And Start Living by Bill Howatt
- 1.5 Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
- 1.6 The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
- 1.7 Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
- 1.8 Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty
- 1.9 When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
- 1.10 Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
With the strain of coronavirus and lockdown sessions, the inert dormancy of our lives allowed the intrusive thoughts to creep in almost imperceptibly. That gradual process of it is what we fail to notice. Such incessant thoughts sow the seeds for detrimental thoughts that make us feel every emotion we prefer not to feel.
And when we do, we shove them under the mat. After carefully wrapping them with shame, we suppress the emotions and don’t speak of it. As if, no one feels such emotions and it’s just you. Also, because we are not supposed to “speak of the taboo”, right?
But thankfully, innumerable books about mental health address what the society has tried to bury in the sand for so long. Taking care of your mental health in a healthy way is unfortunately not an inherent personality trait. Rather, a learned and developed skill.
Sadly, not everyone thinks that there is even a need to learn this empowering skill. If you fail to encompass the parts of your mental, emotional, and psychological health, you ultimately fail to cultivate them. With the help of numerous books for better mental health, you can slowly sow the seeds of acceptance and healing in your mind.
Here’s a list of 10 best mental health books you might have missed. From addressing mental issues and how our mind works to overcoming cycling traumatic experiences with practical solutions to try, I can promise you these books will help you in ways you cannot imagine.
How To Stay Sane In An Age Of Division by Elif Shafak
Everyone needs a sane voice to make sense of the overbearing world we live in. Mine is Elif Shafak’s brilliantly intelligent voice trying to take our heads out of the water. It is truly a wonder how she covered so many topics namely identity, home, race, tribalism, democracy, anxiety, anger, and belongings in this tiny book. And each of the topics is vitally concerning humanity and the impact of words will leave the reader in awe.
Her sense of self along with her love for the human psyche will touch the very core of your existence, mine did. She tries to unfold the truth of how being true to your stories and not lose your voice is an alarming wake-up call. She is a brave storyteller and I highly recommend this to everyone!
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
This is an uplifting fictional mental health book about being a human and it is a story that will speak to every reader of it. By covering the feelings we feel at our lowest moments, during the biggest and even smallest disappointments together with feelings of grief and despair, he brought humor out of it and makes the reader laugh out loud.
The whimsical and lyrical tone adds more to the story of a hostage situation of a strange group of people. Since we are all trying so hard to be adults, we can’t help but make mistakes. But instead of making you feel bad with the slap of raw truth, he lightens your heart.
Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
An inspiring, deeply moving, and life-affirming memoir of Matt Haig(1). Unlike other books on depression that are challenging to understand the depth of, this memoir is relatable and will sit with you for a long time after you close the book. One in five people suffer from some sort of mental illness and Haig was one among them.
This book is about the black hole of depression he was living in and how he fought to get out of the hole with the help of his loved ones. It is more than a self-help book because it makes you live in depression and tells how you can help yourself to be saved from it without it consuming you wholly. Even without sugarcoating, Haig comforts in a strange way.
Stop Hiding And Start Living by Bill Howatt
The crux of this inspiring book is that without learning how to fail, we will never truly flourish and hope is the antidote to fear. With the poignant and straightforward tone intertwined with an evocative personal narrative, the author brings theoretical to pragmatic.
He clearly points out the difference between mental health and mental illness. We often get caught in the fight-or-flight mode due to stress and end up paralyzed with fear and unable to act. Thus, Bill Howatt tries to actively charge up the resilience of the reader for mental fitness to help deal with stress and get out of the “fear trap.” ⠀
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Going to therapy is another big ‘no’ from societal judgment and is reserved for ‘mentally ill people’. However absurd does that sound, if you have ever wondered what a therapist thinks when the patient is unloading on them, this book is for you.
The author opens another door — a back door in particular — of therapy and shows us the world of a therapist. Through tragic and hilarious stories, she shares the power of vulnerability in each of them and keeps the reader gripped and touched. By taking the reader to both the sides of a coin, Lori Gottlieb helps the reader expand their perspective to understand and feel both sides(2). It is a witty and endearing story that will make you want to talk to someone!
The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
If you have gone through a traumatic past and want to reclaim your life, this book is perfect for you. Renowned trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk(3), who has spent three decades working with survivors, transforms your understanding of traumatic stress through this book.
He shows the connection between trauma and physical pain and just how our body works with our feelings and emotions. He pens down how trauma rearranges the brain’s wiring of certain areas — pleasure, engagement, control, and trust — and how can these areas be reactivated through treatments. This is a must-read book on mental health and healing to be aware of how our brain works with trauma and what we can do to protect ourselves against it.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
A story of light and hope and the importance of being kind to one another. It is a rollercoaster of emotions and is a powerful and delightful read of a character study. Eleanor Oliphant is portrayed as a socially “misfit” with a socially inactive life in the beginning.
But as we read, we realize that there’s more to her than the ordinary girl living an ordinary life. The author has seamlessly combined dark mystery and twisted elements in between the chapters of humor. This book will make you laugh, angry, empathetic, and may make you shed a few tears.
Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty
You might be familiar with Jay Shetty, the hotshot of social media platforms. His motivational videos and podcasts are incredibly inspiring, so you can only imagine how wonderful his book is(4). With timeless wisdom up in his sleeves, Jay Shetty shares practical advice on how to think like a monk and clear the roadblock to our true potential.
It reveals how to overcome negative habits and thoughts and access the calm that lies within all of us. If you need pieces of ancient wisdom from a monk, go for this book and start to think like a monk.
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
A self-help book on mental health that will tell you how to cope up with ego, loss, and pain in disappointing moments in life without wanting to throw rocks at people who caused it. Explored with Buddhist philosophies, she writes about dealing with both rushes of fear and subtle undercurrent of fear from difficult events that we face. Things fall apart and we squirm, which is not a good idea.
Because according to Pema Chodron things will continue to fall apart in life. But healing comes from letting there be room for all that’s happening, no matter how terrible. Room for grief, for relief, for misery, and for joy. After all, all emotions felt fully lead to joy. If things are falling apart in your life or not, read this book at least once.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Another hilarious and heartfelt memoir of a journalist who walked with depression and other mental health issues in life. It truly is a funny story about horrible things. Jenny is painfully honest about her experience dealing with mental health issues. In a way, she tries to encourage the reader to find happiness in spite of such mood disorders.
The book explores the contradictory world of mental health and might leave you feeling like a human trainwreck but “furiously happy” at the end. However, many readers have complained about the book lacking a structure and felt like the author was ranting. So, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Although not every recommended book above is a self-help book, you can learn and unlearn various mental health notions you and I grew up thinking were true with these. The first step of any crucial decision of learning is educating yourself. Each of these best mental health books does that so brilliantly. You do not want to miss these mental wellness books!