Mental health is without a doubt my favourite genre when it comes to books. Since I started studying psychology back when I did my A-levels, I became fascinated by the topic of mental health. Without reading too much into it, after the subsequent few years, I think it may have been because deep down, I found it reassuring. I found comfort in the fact that I wasn’t alone. I know for a fact that this is why I still love books around this topic. It was actually the reason why I got into reading again a couple of years ago. Since then, my interests have expanded into a number of different genres, but mental health remains a firm favourite.
Within the last few years, I’ve read some amazing books, and a number of which have been under the topic of mental health. So, I thought I’d share with you a selection of my favourite books in this genre, and hopefully inspire you to get reading too. Here are six mental health books that you should add to your reading wishlist!
Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon (2016)
Hands down, this is my absolute favourite book I’ve read in the last few years. Bryony Gordon is a columnist for The Telegraph, and this is her account of her life with OCD. It’s incredibly honest, and often quite funny in places, with plenty of dark humour that I often found very relatable! She also discusses how keeping her OCD quiet led to drug dependency, bulimia, and depression, signifying how important it is to speak out. I read this a few months before I was diagnosed with OCD myself and found it so helpful. I remember the instant relief I felt thinking that it wasn’t just me who had these thoughts.
Because We Are Bad – Lily Bailey (2018)
In contrast, I read this last year after completing my course of CBT. I remember reading it with a lump in my throat on multiple occasions, because again, I felt this immense relief that I wasn’t the only person experiencing these thoughts. Because We Are Bad is Lily Bailey’s extremely powerful account of living with OCD and how she fights back. Not only would I recommend this to anyone with OCD themselves, but I’d also recommend you read it if you have a loved one who suffers from it too. You will gain a shocking insight into how it really feels to live with this bully of an illness.
Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig (2015)
I was late to the party with this one and I really regret it! Regardless of whether or not you have experience of mental illness, you should read this book. It’s a goddamn masterpiece. Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt Haig’s story of overcoming depression and learning how to live again. For anyone who has been at their absolute lowest, I strongly recommend you read this. There’s some incredibly powerful lessons to be learned from it, and it’s proof that no matter how dark things feel, there is still hope.
All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven (2015)
As far as mental health books go, this is heartbreaking. However, it’s so beautifully told and I think it will strike a chord with anyone who has lost someone. It tells the story of Theodore Finch and Violet Markey, who meet on the ledge of their school bell tower, both with the intention of jumping. Finch frequently contemplates taking his own life, while Violet is consumed with grief over the recent death of her sister. Through their issues, they end up becoming friends while working together on a school project about ‘natural wonders.’ Finch soon realises that he can be himself around Violet, and Violet discovers that there’s so many reasons for her to keep on living. Through their suffering they find each other and end up falling in love. This will have you absolutely bawling but it’s a must read. It teaches you that no matter how small, there is always a reason to keep on living. A word of warning though, there are a fair few references to suicide, so it may be triggering for some.
It’s All Absolutely Fine – Ruby Elliott (2016)
If you haven’t heard of Ruby Elliott’s work – I strongly suggest you take a look at her Instagram. To put it simply, It’s All Absolutely Fine is an illustrated honest and humorous look into living with mental health issues. Her drawings will be relatable for anyone with a mental health disorder – they’ll have you laughing one minute and crying the next. Most importantly, they will reassure you that you are not alone. I would also suggest you read it if you have a loved one with a mental health problem. It captures how it feels perfectly and will give you plenty of insight!
Breaking Mad: The Insider’s Guide to Conquering Anxiety – Anna Williamson with Dr Reeta Newell (2017)
I had this on my Amazon wishlist for ages, so I was thrilled when my Mum got it for me for Christmas last year. This is a wonderfully friendly and helpful guide to overcoming anxiety, as told by someone who has gone through it themselves. Anna Williamson provides a whole package of incredibly useful and practical tips. Even though Williamson is a qualified therapist, she addresses you in this book as though she’s your friend, and it’s as though she’s with you every step of the way. The book is also accompanied by clinical psychologist Dr Reeta Newell, who shares some great tips and advice on overcoming anxiety. While it’s predominantly aimed at young people, I think this book would come in useful for anyone who suffers with anxiety. It’s written in a way that’s easy to understand and there’s no jargon. A must read for anyone who suffers with anxiety for sure.
All of these titles are currently available on Amazon and other book retailers!