Whether you’ve dealt with mental health problems for the first time, had to find new ways of coping with pre-existing conditions or found yourself supporting a friend or family member who was struggling, the last year has been incredibly difficult for many.
With this in mind, sitting back and taking the time to take care of your mental health is more important than ever. And that’s where this list of brilliant books about mental health and wellbeing comes in.
From expert-led books outlining the latest research to first-person memoirs about living with mental health issues, these titles are the perfect place to start if you’re looking to learn more about your mind and how to take care of it.
These books definitely aren’t a substitute for professional help (which you should always seek if your mental health issues are impacting your day-to-day life), but they should hopefully provide you with research and experienced-based tips, lessons and understanding with which to approach your mental health in the future.
How To Build A Healthy Brain by Kimberley Wilson
If you’re looking to learn more about taking care of your mental health, then this book is a pretty good place to start. Written by chartered psychologist Kimberley Wilson, How To Build A Healthy Brain is a science-based guide to all-things brain health.
Packed with lots of practical, holistic advice on how to look after your mental and physical wellbeing, the book features chapters on topics including the importance of sleep, understanding emotions and the role of breath in stress and anxiety – all of which make for fascinating reading.
Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Presented in bitesize, memorable chapters, Reasons To Stay Alive is packed full of memorable musings on life, depression, anxiety and everything in between, and will help you to see mental health through a series of thought-provoking and eye-opening lenses. Everyone will learn something from this book, no matter what relationship you have with your mental health.
Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon
The second book from author, journalist and mental health advocate Bryony Gordon, Mad Girl is a powerful, heart-wrenching, humorous and raw account of Gordon’s life and relationship with her OCD and depression, and what living with mental illness means in the 21st century.
Mad Girl is not a self-help book (Gordon makes this clear in the book’s introduction) but what it is is an incredibly honest and authentic look at the reality of mental illness. It is this which makes the book at-once powerful and comforting, especially for those who can relate to Gordon’s experiences.
It's Not OK To Feel Blue (And Other Lies) edited by Scarlett Curtis
Edited by writer and mental health advocate Scarlett Curtis, this bumper book contains over 70 essays on mental health from celebrities, public figures and influential voices such as Candice Carty-Williams, Emma Thompson and Yomi Adegoke, covering everything from depression and trauma to anxiety and happiness.
A poignant reminder that everyone has their struggles, It’s Not OK To Feel Blue And Other Lies is one of those books you can pick up and read whenever you need it.
How To Calm It by Grace Victory
This short, pocket-sized guide from #Merky Books’ ‘How To…’ series is jam-packed with tools, exercises and tips to help you understand what’s going on inside your head.
Written by YouTuber, influencer and mental health advocate Grace Victory, with a foreword by Black Minds Matter UK, How To Calm It is a must-read if you’re on the hunt for practical, no-nonsense advice that gives you everything you need to calm your mind and feel empowered to look after your mental health.
Get A Grip, Love by Kate Lucey
Get A Grip, Love may only have been out for a couple of months, but it’s frank, humorous and uplifting exploration of what it means to seek help for depression (and the all the unhelpful ‘helpful advice’ that comes with it) has already created plenty of conversation.
One of the best bits about this book is its multi-faceted approach. As well as sharing her own experiences of depression, the book’s author Kate Lucey also features the stories of other people who have struggled with their mental health alongside the opinions of various experts and facts from scientific studies, so you get a real sense of the subject at hand.
Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide To Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab
A practical approach to putting yourself and your mental health first, in Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide To Reclaiming Yourself Nedra Glover Tawwab explores how a lack of boundaries can impact your wellbeing, and why it’s so important to establish and maintain healthy boundaries in all areas of your life.
Full of lots of useful tips, and rooted in the latest research and best practices used in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), this book is perfect for anyone who wants to make a change to the way they navigate the world and define their place in it.
Sane New World by Ruby Wax
Comedian, writer and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax has written a number of brilliant books about mental health since Sane New World was published in 2013, but it’s still one of her best.
Leaning on her own personal experience, Masters from Oxford in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and neuroscience, Wax explores how the way the human brain functions can actually put our mental health at risk – and provides a toolkit to help readers rewire their thinking to calm themselves despite it all.
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Not only is it a fascinating insight into the lives that go on behind the scenes of the therapist’s chair, but in her observation of her own struggles as a patient and a clinician, Gottlieb is able to paint a unique perspective of the human mind and the challenges we face throughout our lives. Whether you think therapy is nonsense, are thinking about getting it or simply want to learn more, then this book is a must-read.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, you can find support and resources on the mental health charity Mind’s website and NHS Every Mind Matters or access the NHS’ list of mental health helplines and organisations here.
If you are struggling with your mental health, you can also ask your GP for a referral to NHS Talking Therapies, or you can self-refer.
For confidential support, you can also call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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