Many of us tend to neglect our mental health or underestimate the difficulties we may be going through, but it is important to take care of your mental health the same way you take care of your physical health. Relying on support from both trained professionals and others who have faced the same challenges as us can make all the difference.
You can find a wealth of helpful advice, understanding, and resources in the many well-written books in the field. We’ve highlighted some of the best mental health books, covering a wide range of topics from addiction to grief.
Best books on mental health
The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk, MD – $11.40
A must read for anyone who has experienced trauma (especially in childhood) or wants to better understand how trauma permanently affects the body and brain. Dr. van der Kolk explains the relevant science in an easy-to-understand way and offers hope in the form of promising new treatments.
Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health, by Thomas Insel, MD – $20.49
Dr. Insel left his position as Director of the National Institute of Mental Health to devote his time and energy to researching ways to improve the American mental health system. The solution is a three-pronged approach that combines social and medical support.
What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Complex Trauma Healing, by Stephanie Fu – $13.99
After suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for years, Stephanie Foo was diagnosed with complex PTSD, the result of abuse and abandonment by her parents. Foo combines her personal experiences with in-depth research to highlight C-PTSD and its causes while sharing helpful treatment options and coping strategies.
The Mother of Black Hollywood, by Jennifer Lewis – $12.58
Jennifer Lewis has built an impressive entertainment resume with hundreds of roles in Hollywood and Broadway. But a breakdown caused by an undiagnosed mental illness took an unexpected turn, which she details in this poignant and inspiring memoir.
Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, by David Schiff – $9.99
This compelling book – which was later made into a movie – tells the compelling story of Ibn Schiff’s struggle with addiction and its life-changing impact on the entire family. For anyone struggling with addiction or supporting someone dear to them, this story will provide comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone.
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The Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way to Understand Addiction, by Maya Salaviz – $17.79
Another great resource for those who want to gain a better understanding of addiction, this book offers a fresh look at the topic, breaking some common beliefs and offering a different way of thinking about the causes and treatments of addiction.
Nothing Generic About It: How Love (And Lithium) Saved Me In and Out of General Hospital, by Maurice Benard – $12.49
Maurice Bennard has become one of the most well-known and respected actors of daytime television, but Bennard’s incredible real-life journey is more exciting than any of his stories. In this unblocked memoir, he talks about his lifelong psychological struggles, and the bipolar crisis that nearly ended his life. Public Hospital Soon after its inception, the important lessons he learned along the way.
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Mood and Madness, by Kay Redfield Jamison- $13.99
Another dramatic memoir of bipolar disorder, this book by Kay Redfield Jamison offers a unique perspective based on her dual roles as someone who was searching for treatments for the condition while also living with bipolar disorder herself. A raw and honest narrative isn’t always pretty but it’s worth a read.
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It’s OK You’re Not Alright: Facing Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand, by Megan Devine – $9.99
Unfortunately, the loss of a loved one — and the seemingly unbearable grief that often follows — is an experience most of us go through at some point in our lives. In this comforting and insightful book, therapist Megan Devine debunks common myths about grief and offers reassurance that it’s okay to take your own path in learning to live with grief.
Related Topics: Best Online Grief Support Groups Available Right Now
Pathology: The True Story of Six Misdiagnosis, by Sarah Fay – $18.62
You’ll find this memoir by Sarah Fay fascinating–and perhaps a little unsettling, especially if you’re suspicious of a mental health diagnosis you’ve received. Using her 25-year journey through six misdiagnoses as a basis, Faye takes a closer look at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and asks some important and thought-provoking questions about its dominant role in mental health diagnoses.
Mean Kid: A Memoir of Growing Up, by Selma Blair – $18.55
You’ll want to give Selma Blair a big hug and then share tears and laughter over a cup of coffee after reading her story of childhood trauma, addiction, and the precarious Hollywood scene while also dealing with her MS symptoms. While it’s not always easy, her journey has never been boring – and you’ll be mesmerized by her amazing connections to a great variety of famous names.
Let’s Pretend It Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson – $10.19
Anyone familiar with blogger Jenny Lawson knows that she’s not one to fall back on the surreal details of her real-life drama, so it’s no surprise that she shares the highs and lows of her quirky upbringing and mental health challenges with her trademark blend of honesty and humor.
Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience, by Brian Brown – $17.78
If there’s anyone who can help us understand the wild rollercoaster ride of human emotions and interpersonal interactions, it’s Brian Brown. Brown’s distinctively motivational tone emphasizes the importance of authentic human connection – and gives us a roadmap for building those connections.
Decoding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break Cycles of Anxiety and Fear to Heal Your Mind, by Judson Brewer, MD – $17.69
Anyone who has lived with anxiety knows how difficult – and often exhausting – it can be. Dr. Brewer offers a step-by-step guide to help you manage anxiety and stop worrying about constantly disrupting your life.
Related Topics: What is an anxiety attack and how can you stop it?
This Is Your Brain On Food: An Indispensable Guide To Surprising Foods That Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, And More, By Uma Naidoo, MD – $18.49
Dr. Naidoo shares a wealth of fascinating research that demonstrates the powerful connection between the mind and body and provides valuable guidance on the best ways to best adapt your diet to address any specific mental health concerns you have (or prevent issues you want to avoid).
Clean Up Your Mental Clutter: 5 Simple, Scientifically Proven Steps to Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Toxic Thinking, by Dr. Caroline Leaf – $15.97
If you’re the type of person who craves the structure of to-do lists and action steps, you’ll love how Dr. Lev improves our mental health. It offers a simple 5-step plan to help you make a change in your mental health and be more proactive in managing your mental health.
Next, check out these celebrity tips on how to spend a mental health day.