6 Mental Health Books We Love

Mental health books comprise a genre rich with diverse voices, perspectives, and approaches. Books about mental health come in many forms, and there’s an abundance of great choices for everyone.

Types of Mental Health Books

Mental health books come in all forms. There are biographies, like Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, a compelling account of her experience with bipolar disorder. And similar books about living with specific diagnoses, like anxiety, depression, schizoaffective disorder, and schizophrenia.

There are books about the history of mental illness and its treatments, like Desperate Remedies: Psychiatry’s Turbulent Quest to Cure Mental Illness by the sociologist Andrew Scull. You can even find books of poetry about mental health. The Carrying by Poet Laureate Ada Limón includes verses about the grief of infertility.

Some mental health titles fall into the self-improvement category, like Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

How to Pick a Book About Mental Health

When picking a book about mental health, you will be presented with a plethora of options. These questions will help you identify which read is right for you:

1. What is my goal? Am I looking for tips on mental healthcare? Do I want to feel understood? Do I want to understand someone else? To understand the history of mental health and diagnoses?

2. Am I looking for a narrative story? Advice or instructions? A historical or medical account?

3. Consider who is writing the book—what expertise do they have?


Mental Health Books - Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? By Julie Smith, Ph.D.

1. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

by Julie Smith, Ph.D.

In Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? The Tik-Tok famous clinical psychologist Julie Smith details how the mind, body, and emotions work together to influence every ounce of our lives. In short chapters, Smith unpacks her mental health toolbox and demonstrates how all the gadgets work.

Readers will walk away better at caring for their mental health and with techniques to manage anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. Plus, they’ll learn to cultivate resilience, motivation and inspiration, self-confidence, and forgiveness.

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Mental Health Books - Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle By Amelia Nagoski, Ph.D., and Emily Nagoski

2. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

by Amelia Nagoski, Ph.D., and Emily Nagoski

If you’re a working American, it’s very likely you’ve experienced burnout at some point. According to Deloitte, 77% of workers in the US have experienced burnout in their jobs, and those who are burned out say unmanageable stress negatively affects their work and their personal lives.

Burnout is specifically targeted at helping women minimize burnout and its effects, but everyone will get something from this book. Readers will learn how to “complete” the stress cycle, appreciate and love your body, and monitor your emotions to better use them for your benefit.

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Mental Health Books - The Body Keeps the Score By Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

3. The Body Keeps the Score

by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is a psychiatrist and clinical researcher with decades of experience working with patients who have experienced severe forms of trauma. The Body Keeps the Score is a powerful account of the far-reaching effect of trauma, both mental and physical, and how his patients have learned to heal.

This wonderfully readable and powerful mental health book comprises both narrative patient stories and histories of medical research and treatment.

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Mental Health Books - The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help You Deserve By Rheeda Walker, Ph.D.

4. The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help You Deserve

by Rheeda Walker, Ph.D.

Clinical psychologist Rheeda Walker pulls back the curtain to shine a light on the Black mental health crisis created by a system that is not designed to provide equal healthcare to all. Readers will learn how to identify the symptoms of mental illness, find psychological healing, foster community, and find the help they need. Walker also offers tools and strategies to mitigate stress and enrich emotional wellness.

The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health is a must-read for every person of color and the allies that stand with them.

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Mental Health Books - Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health By Thomas Insel, M.D.

5. Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health

by Thomas Insel, M.D.

As a neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Thomas Insel has seen the inner machinery of the mental health system and knows first-hand why it’s failing so many people who desperately need care.

In Healing, Insel shifts the focus from the biological and chemical influences on mental health to how we can prevent and heal from the effects of mental illness. The book explores why the quality of mental healthcare varies so widely, why many practitioners lack accountability, and why we’ve become so resigned to treating symptoms rather than problems.

Insel lays out the brokenness of the mental health system and how it can be made right, with what he calls the three Ps: people, place, and purpose.

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Mental Health Books - How We Heal: Uncover Your Power and Set Yourself Free By Alexandra Elle

6. How We Heal: Uncover Your Power and Set Yourself Free

by Alexandra Elle

Everyone has a need to heal in some way. Whether it’s healing from an acute traumatic experience, the loss of a loved one, the dissolution of a relationship, or simply damaging beliefs about oneself. In How We Heal, Alexandra Elle presents a four-part framework for healing and offers practical advice readers can apply in their own lives, like journaling, meditation, and boundary-setting.

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