It's officially Mental Health Awareness Month! To honor taking care of ourselves and our mental health, we've compiled a list of books — non-fiction and fiction — that help normalize discussing mental health struggles.
Aside from the typical ways of taking care of your mental health — exercising, journaling, meditation, spending time with loved ones — reading books that highlight mental health struggles can help people feel seen and heard.
These eight books illustrate different aspects of what it's like to struggle with mental health. Check them out and add them to your reading list this month!
I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying
By Bassey Ikpi
In "I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying," Bassey Ikpi, a Nigerian-American immigrant, a black woman, a slam poet, a mother, a daughter, an artist, explores her life through the lens of her mental health and bipolar II diagnosis. She bravely shares her story in a memoir of intimate and honest essays.
Be a Triangle: How I Went from Being Lost to Getting My Life into Shape
By Lilly Singh
In this book, Lilly Singh provides a space where readers can learn how to create peace from within. She doesn't sugar-coat things, either — she shares her intensely personal struggles with identity, success, and self-doubt, and she teaches you how to "unsubscribe" from perfect, cookie-cutter ideals through humor and vulnerability.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown
By Talia Hibbert
Dani Brown gets into an innocent, flirtatious relationship with Zaf, the security guard of her building and ex-rugby player. After a video of Zaf rescuing Dani during a workplace fire drill goes viral, the internet "ships" their relationship and Zaf begs Dani to play along and pretend they're dating. Zaf, who struggles with anxiety, is sensitive to his condition and wonders if anyone will see and accept him for who he is. This spunky romance novel is a fun and easy read, all while shedding a light on mental health struggles.
Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health
By Thomas Insel, MD
This book focuses on the three Ps: People, Place, and Purpose. Written by Thomas Insel, the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, this book is based on a lifetime of research. It covers the failings of the mental healthcare system and offers actionable steps for people in mental health crises and their families.
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole
By Susan Cain
"Bittersweet" brings people together and helps us remember that every person knows or will know the feeling of loss and suffering. This book reminds us that we must acknowledge our pain, or else we might unknowingly press it onto others. "Bittersweet" shares inspiring messages that encourage us to all embrace the bittersweet parts of life and connect with others, even during times of struggle and heartbreak.
Everything Here is Beautiful
By Mira T. Lee
This novel follows the story of two Chinese American sisters — Miranda and Lucia — that could not be more different. Lucia, the younger sister, is a free spirit that is happy to go wherever life takes her. Miranda, the older sister, is ambitious and responsible. She knows exactly what she wants her life to look like. Miranda is naturally protective of Lucia, but not just because of the age difference — Lucia struggles with severe mental illness. Celeste Ng, New York Times best-selling author of "Little Fires Everywhere," calls this novel "A tender but unflinching portrayal of the bond between two sisters.”
The Mountain Is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage Into Self-Mastery
By Brianna Wiest
"The Mountain Is You" is all about self-sabotage and why and when we do it, and how to stop doing it — for good. This book will help you gain insight from your most damaging habits, and build emotional intelligence by better understanding your brain and body. Brianna Wiest tackles self-sabotage with a new and refreshing lens — she discusses its root cause and triggers, and recommends actions that will help anyone stop it from completely taking over their lives.
On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety
By Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen writes an incredibly honest account of living and growing up with anxiety. Officially diagnosed at 20 years old, Petersen shows how her anxiety has affected her work, romantic relationships, and experience as a parent. Woven into Petersen’s personal story is an insightful look at the biology of anxiety and the groundbreaking research that might point the way to new treatments.
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