Many of us tend to ignore our mental health or downplay the struggles we may be going through, but it’s important to take care of your mental health as much as your physical health. With the support of trained professionals and others facing the same challenges, it can make a big difference.
You can find a wealth of advice, understanding, and useful resources in the many well-written books in this 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
Body Keep Score, 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 accessible way and offers hope in the form of promising new treatments.
Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health, Thomas Insel, MD – $20.49
Dr. Insel resigned as director of the National Institute of Mental Health to devote his time and energy to researching ways to improve America’s mental health system. He boils the solution down to a three-pronged approach that combines social and medical support.
What My Bones Know: A Healing Memoir of Complex Wounds, Stephanie Foo – $13.99
After battling anxiety and panic attacks for years, Stephanie Foo was diagnosed with complex PTSD, the result of her parents’ abuse and abandonment. Foo combines her personal experience with in-depth research to shed light on C-PTSD and its causes, while sharing helpful treatment options and coping strategies.
The Mother of Black Hollywood, Jennifer Lewis – $12.58
Jenifer Lewis has built an impressive entertainment resume that includes hundreds of Hollywood and Broadway roles. But a breakdown due to an undiagnosed mental illness led to an unexpected detour, which she details in this moving and inspiring memoir.
Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Son’s Journey to Addiction, by David Sheff – $9.99
This engrossing book — which was later made into a movie — tells the riveting story of Scheff’s son’s battle with drug addiction and its life-changing impact on the entire family. For anyone addicted or supportive of a loved one, this story will let them know they are not alone.
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The Whole Brain: A Revolutionary New Approach to Understanding Addiction, Maia Szalavitz – $17.79
Another great resource for those who want to better understand addiction, this book provides a new perspective on the topic, breaks down some common beliefs, and offers a different way to think about the causes and treatments of addiction.
There’s Nothing Universal About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me Up and Down General Hospital, Maurice Benard – $12.49
Maurice Benard has become one of daytime television’s most famous and respected actors, but Benard’s incredible real-life journey is more intriguing than any of his storylines.In this no-holds-barred memoir, he talks about his lifelong mental health struggle that nearly ended his bipolar crisis general Hospital Soon after his career started, he learned important lessons along the way.
Restless Mind: A Memoir of Emotions and Madness, Kay Redfield Jamison – $13.99
Another dramatic memoir about bipolar disorder, this book by Kay Redfield Jamison offers a unique perspective based on her dual role as a person who studies the treatment of the condition, She also suffers from bipolar disorder herself. A raw and honest narrative, not always pretty, but worth reading.
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It’s Okay You’re Not Normal: Encountering Grief and Loss in a Culture You Don’t Understand, Megan Devine – $9.99
Sadly, the loss of a loved one — and the seemingly unbearable grief that comes with it — is an experience most of us experience at some point in our lives. In this comforting and insightful book, therapist Megan Devine debunks common grief-related myths and promises that it’s good to walk your own path to learn to live with grief.
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Sick: The True Story of Six Misdiagnoses, Sarah Fey – $18.62
You’ll find this Sarah Fay memoir fascinating—and perhaps a little disconcerting, especially if you’ve ever been skeptical of a mental health diagnosis you’ve received. Building on her 25-year history of six misdiagnoses, Fay takes a close look at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and asks some important and thought-provoking questions about its leading role in mental health diagnosis.
Mean Babies: A Memoir of Growing Up, by Selma Blair – $18.55
You’ll want to give Selma Blair a big hug, then share a cup of coffee with tears and laughter after reading her story of surviving childhood trauma, addiction, and a dangerous Hollywood View while still coping with MS symptoms. While it’s not always easy, her journey is never boring – you’ll be fascinated by her amazing connections to so many notable people.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson – $10.19
Anyone familiar with blogger Jenny Lawson knows that she doesn’t hide the surreal details of her real-life drama, so she uses her signature fusion to share the highs and lows of her quirky growth and mental health challenges. Not surprising. Honesty and humor.
Heart Atlas: Mapping Meaningful Connections and the Language of Human Experience, Brené Brown – $17.78
If anyone can help us understand the crazy roller coaster of human emotions and personal interactions, it’s Brené Brown. With her characteristic motivating tone, Brown underscores the importance of authentic relationships and provides us with a roadmap for building those connections.
Relieving Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycle of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind, Judson Brewer, MD – $17.69
Anyone who’s ever lived with anxiety knows how challenging — and often debilitating — it can be. Dr. Brewer offers a step-by-step guide to help you manage your anxiety and stop the constant worry from disrupting your life.
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Here’s Your Food Brain: An Indispensable Guide to Surprising Foods to Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More, by Uma Naidoo, MD – $18.49
Dr. Naidoo shares a wealth of fascinating research that illustrates the powerful mind-body connection and provides valuable insights into how best to adjust your diet to address any of your specific mental health issues (or prevent the ones you’re trying to avoid) guidance.
Clear 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 kind of person who craves the structure of a to-do list and action steps, you’ll love Dr. Leaf’s approach to improving our mental health. She offers a simple 5-step plan to help you make a mental health transformation and more actively manage your mental health.
Next, check out these celebrity tips on how to spend your mental health day.