Books On Mental Health That Everyone Should Read

Our previous article — “Cinematography and Mental Health” explored movies that represented mental health in the media. In this article, we explore books that touch upon various facets of the mental health process.

Books build narratives for people, it gives a medium to express for the writer but also for the reader to resonate with the protagonist’s opinions, the situations in the stories and feel at home, that they are not alone or on the contrary give them an escape from the troubles of their life and submerge themselves in the fantasies and fictional lands. Written words and stories are the oldest mediums to impart knowledge and share information. Since ancient times, stories and folklore have been used to teach children about astrology, science, language, and morals. Stories have given a view of the society at every age and century, to put forward the struggles and a being a source of enlightenment in times of dire need. The 21st century has seen voices being raised for the awareness of mental health and people being woken up about their internal struggles and the importance of vocalising them. Talking about mental health has been a taboo for as long as one can remember, but that is on the verge of change. People read to be more informed, understand and for entertainment as well. The article aims to cover different lenses of how books cover mental health. Some books take you to a therapeutic journey, some highlight mental health issues and others simply educate you on what goes in the brain and complex human mind.

MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE A THERAPIST, HER THERAPIST, AND OUR LIVES REVEALED by Lori Gottlieb

“But part of getting to know yourself is to unknow yourself — to let go of the limiting stories you’ve told yourself about who you are so that you aren’t trapped by them, so you can live your life and not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life.”

This exceptional read was published in 2019, written by a therapist in the first-person perspective about her experience sitting on both sides of the table, as a therapist and as a client. The story revolves around her fears and how she comes to terms with it. The introspection that she does as a therapist resonates with her clients and the lessons, self-reflection journey that she goes on with her therapist. It is a must-read for everyone as it brings to the surface how difficult it becomes to understand one’s own patterns and the role a therapist plays. It also places an emphasis on the goals that a person can achieve by seeking help and talking to a trained professional about hardships in their life.

IKAGAI by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

“Essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for”

They deeply based this book on the Japanese philosophy of living life. Life is based in the present on finding a purpose that is subjective for all and leading life that is meaningful on different levels, personal and something more than your narrow vision of the world. The book also incorporates and introduces the concept of flow by a positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which simply says, “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it” The book is not just theoretical concept of how Japanese centurions have lived their life with their excerpts and advice but also teaches the readers how they can implement in their own life. It introduces readers to some major psychological teachings from psychologists and teachers, including the work of Viktor Frankl- Logotherapy and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi- Flow, to encourage readers to find the meaning of their life, to flourish and thrive, not just survive.

DEEP WORK: RULES FOR FOCUSED SUCCESS IN A DISTRACTED WORLD by Cal Newport

“What we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore — plays in defining the quality of our life.”

In psychology, we look at the world in a triangle, the Affect-Behavior-Cognition, and this book focuses on the “B” of this triangle. It encourages the readers to look at their life from the actions that they do and how these behaviours help in either achieving progress and accomplishing goals or discouraging consequences and attempts and after attempts without successful results. The book is full of tips and goal formation techniques with the example of the author themselves than how they could thrive and the reader as well can customize this plan and make a plan for their own self.

AS A MAN THINKETH by James Allen

“A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”

This book focuses on the “C” of the psychology triangle. This short book is a collection of essays of thoughts of the author on certain matters. It is a read that can be finished in an hour if we look at the pages but once you get to reading it, you need time and space to process and understand the depth of what the author wants to convey to you. It empowers the reader to grasp the potential that a person has within themselves by just knowing the power of their thoughts, how thoughts tend to affect your work, actions, feelings. We can have control over our thoughts and change the course of life.

LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green

“When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

John Green as a writer, YouTuber and educator has intervened a lot with young adults, exploring their issues and mindsets that they live in, all his books have some traces of mental health relevance and the hardships of teenagers, his recent book “Turtles all the way down” was a direct address to the Mental health disorder OCD but his book Looking for Alaska, talks about how volatile this age is and when teenagers don’t have the tool kit to handle the stressors of life or someone they can reach out to, how they learn to cope with things on their own. It talks about friendships, resilience and strength. It gives an insight into how problems that might appear small to us can be different for the person right in the epicenter of it.

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