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The 24 Most Important Books On Mental Health

Learn how to identify the habits that make up a healthy mind.

Mental health is no joke. It is the defining characteristic that determines if a person will be fully functioning within society in a healthy, productive, cooperative and safe way for themselves and others whom they might interact. Therefore it is of utmost importance to be able to recognize the signs of ill mental health in any individual we encounter.

The problem with mental health in modern society is that it is treated as a taboo subject. The media, our institutions, and society at large are scared to call out and act on obvious cases where the subject might reasonably be a danger to themselves and others. While that taboo status is not going away any time soon, it’s imperative that you understand for yourself how to spot healthy and unhealthy minds around you. That’s exactly what you’ll learn by reading these books.

Who contributed to this article?
Emily McBride from Topix Media Lab

Aneela Idnani from HabitAware

Dennis Timpanaro from Gotivation, LLC

Bick Wanck from Bick Wanck MD & Associates

Laura Chackes from The Center for Mindfulness & CBT

Katie Ziskind from Wisdom Within Counseling

Keith Macpherson from Pono Life Co

Dyane Harwood from N/A

David Klow from Skylight Counseling Center

Calvin Rosser from Life Reimagined

Adina Mahalli from EnlightenedReality

Christina McCall from Mango Publishing

Elaine Bentley Baughn from 5 Rules for Drama-Free Living

Dr. Wyatt Fisher from ChristianCrush

Vincent Tran from Center For Discovery

Sal Raichbach from Ambrosia Treatment Center

#1 Happier Every Day: Simple ways to bring more peace, contentment and joy into your life

Happier Every Day: Simple ways to bring more peace, contentment and joy into your life
In Happier Every Day, Paula Munier details a simple yet comprehensive approach to cultivating happiness, including the most recent data and discoveries, all distilled into layman’s terms. You’ll find 100 practical exercises and activities to improve mental health such as hygge, feng shui, yoga and decluttering. Mental health is all about everyday choices, and Happier Every Day provides a blueprint to turn these choices into happiness.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#2 Project Dermatillomania – Written on Our Skin by Laura Barton

Project Dermatillomania - Written on Our Skin by Laura Barton
Skin Picking is part of a broader mental health category, called body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). BFRBs are a debilitating mental health disorder that also include compulsive hair pulling (trichotillomania), nail biting (onychophagia) and other behaviors.

These automatic and compulsive behaviors serve a purpose as a coping mechanism for stress, boredom or other triggers. They are NOT a choice, rather they are the fight or flight system gone awry.

The resulting physical defects – baldness, skin infections, lesions, etc. – lead to feelings of shame, guilt and fear of judgement. A majority of BFRBers hid their disorder with makeup and fake smiles. As a result, BFRBs share the odd combination of being extremely common yet extremely misunderstood.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#3 Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work.and What Does by Susan Fowler

Why Motivating People Doesn't Work.and What Does by Susan Fowler
Positive motivation plays an important role in mental health. With it, you can feel more positive, bounce back after a rough patch, and stick to your goals. The problem? Most of our perceptions about motivation are wrong! (uh oh)

That’s where Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work.and What Does comes in. Susan Fowler explains that motivation is a skill that we can all practice. It’s not luck, genetics, or some inspirational quote you saw on Instagram.

Once we learn how to properly motivate ourselves, we can even help others improve their motivation and have a stronger mindset. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#4 Mind Easing: The Three-Layered Healing Plan for Anxiety and Depression

Mind Easing: The Three-Layered Healing Plan for Anxiety and Depression
Mind Easing offers the first comprehensive healing method for anxiety and depression by harmonizing wellness approaches, therapy, and, when needed, psychiatric medicine into a safe and effective plan tailored to the needs and wants of the individual.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#5 Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Jonathan Grayson

Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Jonathan Grayson
This is by far the best mental health book I’ve ever read. My opinion may be somewhat biased by the fact that I specialize in treating OCD, but I use this book with patients who have other disorders as well. In fact, this book is so helpful that some of my patients get better in just a few sessions after reading this book. Not only is it helpful, but it is also very entertaining due to Dr. Grayson’s sense of humor that comes out in his writing.

Reading his book has helped greatly in my understanding of OCD, most specifically that at its core is a fear or discomfort with uncertainty. Because many of us struggle with anxiety when things are unknown or uncertain, this book offers some strategies that are helpful to us all. However for an OCD sufferer, this book is a life-saver.

It takes you through a detailed and comprehensive step-by-step plan to overcome the difficulties caused by OCD so that you can live a happy and fully-functional life. As soon as I started using this treatment approach with my patients with OCD about 14 years ago, I instantly knew that this was the population with which I wanted to specialize.

Seeing people completely disabled by OCD become remarkably better in a matter of weeks or months was so rewarding for me as a psychologist. If you have OCD, OCD tendencies, or know anyone who does, get this book NOW! It will literally change your life.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#6 Talking to Children About Divorce by Jean McBride MS LMFT

Talking to Children About Divorce by Jean McBride MS LMFT
This book outlines how to talk to your children about divorce and separation. If you’re raising children and you’re getting divorced, this book outlines the best practices and offers parenting recommendations for talking to your children about divorce.

This book teaches you age appropriate ways to explain moving between two homes and the changes happening in your family. I highly recommend this book for any parent teaching their child about divorce and mental health.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#7 Making Sense of Mindfulness by Keith Macpherson

Making Sense of Mindfulness by Keith Macpherson
Making Sense of Mindfulness offers five concrete principles for people to integrate mindfulness practices into everyday life. The book uses personal stories, concrete examples, and practical exercises to demonstrate how one can use mindfulness practice to improve their mental health and well being. This book is recommended for people who are looking for a better work/life balance and trying to get mentally unstuck.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#8 Birth of a New Brain—Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

Birth of a New Brain—Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder
Birth of a New Brain is the first book to address postpartum bipolar disorder, a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. A combination of memoir and self-help, Birth of a New Brain has been endorsed by bipolar expert Kay Redfield Jamison and by twenty other mental health luminaries.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#9 You Are Not Crazy: Letters from Your Therapist

You Are Not Crazy: Letters from Your Therapist
This book ends this psychological isolation that most of us face. It helps people realize that they are not the only ones who have strange thoughts or behave inconsistently. This book helps readers find new understanding about themselves. Through a series of heartfelt letters from a therapist to his patients, timeless and impactful information is shared that normalizes life’s struggles.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#10 Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
This book will transform your understanding of mental health. In it, Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl describes his terrifying experience in the concentration camps and how finding meaning in his experience helped him survive. Frankl went on to found logotherapy, a leading school of psychotherapy contending that humans are motivated by a search for meaning. Without meaning, mental health issues flourish.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#11 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Many people have heard of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest because it’s a movie, but not everyone realizes that it was based off of this fabulous book. It tells the story of Nurse Ratched, who works in the Oregon State mental hospital.

She conducts things in a very strict fashion, overseeing a ward of people who are subjected to a tremendous amount of medication as well as electric shock therapy. But when McMurphy arrives determined to not follow the rules (doing things like gambling and smuggling in wine), the dynamics are changed.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#12 Stop Anxiety from Stopping You by Helen Odessky

Stop Anxiety from Stopping You by Helen Odessky
Our pace of life has increased exponentially in the last few decades. When signs of anxiety and panic appear, they ravage our lives, our dreams and our spirit. But it is now possible to stop anxiety from stopping us in our tracks.

In Stop Anxiety from Stopping You, Dr. Helen Odessky helps us understand the process of anxiety–and how to arm ourselves with strategies that work. Dr. Odessky draws on her fifteen years of clinical experience to guide us through the process of not only learning how to overcome anxiety, but also how to enrich our lives.

This book will show you how to stop anxiety and how to stop panic attacks in an easy-to-implement six-step framework. You will learn about the signs of anxiety and how to overcome them, methods to stopping panic attacks, and ways to treat anxiety. Dr. Odessky’s compelling and optimistic guide will help you move from a position of difficulty to one of hope.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#13 Keep Pain in the Past by Chris Cortman

Keep Pain in the Past by Chris Cortman
Contrary to what many people believe, we can recover from emotional trauma relatively quickly and completely on our own. Whether it’s extreme trauma such as sexual abuse or the horrors of war or less dramatic, but psychologically speaking just as serious wounds involving shame and guilt, we don’t need to spend years in intensive therapy to recover.

While most people know what they can do on their own to treat physical ills―like using ice on a muscle sprain―they don’t realize that they can apply certain psychological principles to treat anxiety, depression and many other conditions from the comfort of their own homes. Keep Pain in the Past will teach you the critical 21st century skill of treating psychological wounds on your own.

Discover how Sheri, a 37-year-old attorney, recovered from panic attacks that seemed to come out of nowhere. Follow the journey of Mark, a 29-year-old Army veteran who experienced the horror of war in Afghanistan, as he healed from the downward spiral that had caused him to lose his job and become increasingly uncommunicative with his family.

Explore how Melinda, a 42-year-old professor who struggled to sustain a romantic relationship, confronted her torturous childhood and has now found love that is still going strong after three years. Keep Pain in the Past achieves what conventional therapy does not. This book will help you confront the emotional baggage of your past, reach closure by completing the event, and finally discover a life unhaunted by past trauma.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#14 You Can Do All Things by Kate Allan

You Can Do All Things by Kate Allan
When you have anxiety of depression, you can feel deeply alone. You can feel like you’re the only person on the planet who’s struggling with weird worries (which won’t go away), who can’t go grocery shopping without getting sweaty and panicked, who fears everything.

When we feel this way, one of the greatest gifts we can receive is knowing that there’s someone out there walking a similar path, someone who understands the sorrow, the struggles, the symptoms, the hardships. Someone we can relate to, someone who shares their story, with vulnerability and without filters. With You Can Do All Things, Kate Allan has given us such a gift.

In You Can Do All Things, Kate shares her struggles with anxiety and depression, which started when she was just a child. Through her honest words, uplifting illustrations, and actionable suggestions, Kate also encourages us to keep trying and to keep going.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#15 5 Rules for Drama-Free Living by Elaine Bentley Baughn

5 Rules for Drama-Free Living by Elaine Bentley Baughn
Author Elaine Bentley Baughn says that her book 5 Rules for Drama-Free Living was written for people who don’t have time to be in therapy for years.

Short, direct, friendly, and designed to teach basic understanding of internal emotional processes, Baughn’s easily understood metaphors and light humor give readers a handy way to think about what goes on inside them — and to see what changes they might like to make on their own. For those who go on to pursue therapy, these tools can give them a jump start to making the process move more rapidly.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#16 Mind Over Mood, Second Edition by Dennis Greenberger

Mind Over Mood, Second Edition by Dennis Greenberger
This books comes out of the highly researched based field of cognitive behavioral therapy. It helps people identify their negative core beliefs, such as I’m a loser, I’m unlovable, etc. and provides concrete steps to change them to better all areas of life, such as dating, marriage, friendships, vocation, etc.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#17 Look Me in the Eye, John Elder Robison

Look Me in the Eye, John Elder Robison
Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#18 Wasted A Memoir, Marya Hornbacher

Wasted A Memoir, Marya Hornbacher
A vivid, heartbreaking autobiography shares one young woman’s lifelong battle with bulimia and anorexia, chronicling her secret life of binging and purging, obsession with food and body image, substance abuse, and sex, as well as her harrowing battle with eating disorders.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#19 All the Things We Never Knew, Shelia Hamilton

All the Things We Never Knew, Shelia Hamilton
Even as a reporter, Sheila Hamilton missed the signs as her husband David’s mental illness unfolded before her. By the time she had pieced together the puzzle, it was too late.

Her once brilliant, intense, and passionate partner was dead within six weeks of a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, leaving his nine-year-old daughter and wife without so much as a note to explain his actions, a plan to help them recover from their profound grief, or a solution for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that they would inherit from him.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#20 Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher

Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher
Based on Fisher’s hugely successful one-woman show, Wishful Drinking is the story of growing up in Hollywood royalty, battling addiction, and dealing with manic depression. Her first memoir is an inside look at her famous parents’ marriage and her own tumultuous love affairs (including her on-again, off-again relationship with Paul Simon). Most notably, it’s a brutally honest – and hilarious – reflection on the late writer’s path to sobriety.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#21 Mind Without a Home, Kristina Morgan

Mind Without a Home, Kristina Morgan
Have you ever wondered what it is like in the mind of a person with schizophrenia? How can one survive day after day unable to distinguish between one’s inner nightmares and the everyday realities that most of us take for granted?

In her brutally honest, highly original memoir, Kristina Morgan takes us inside her head to experience the chaos, fragmented thinking, and the startling creativity of the schizophrenic mind. With the intimacy of private journal-like entries and the language of a poet, she carries us from her childhood to her teen years when hallucinations began to hijack her mind and into adulthood where she began abusing alcohol to temper the punishing voices that only she could hear

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#22 Nowhere Near Normal, Traci Foust

Nowhere Near Normal, Traci Foust
When all the neighborhood kids were playing outdoors, seven-year-old Traci Foust was inside making sure the miniature Catholic saint statues on her windowsill always pointed north, scratching out bald patches on her scalp, and snapping her fingers after every utterance of the word God.

As Traci grew older, her OCD blossomed to include panic attacks and bizarre behaviors, including a fear of the sun, an obsession with contracting eradicated diseases, and the idea that she could catch herself on fire just by thinking about it. While stints of therapy — and lots of Nyquil — sometimes helped, nothing alleviated the fact that her single mother and mid-life crisis father had no idea how to deal with her

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#23 Denial, Jessica Stern

Denial, Jessica Stern
Alone in an unlocked house, in a safe suburban Massachusetts town, two good, obedient girls, Jessica Stern, fifteen, and her sister, fourteen, were raped on the night of October 1, 1973. The rapist was never caught.

For over thirty years, Stern denied the pain and the trauma of the assault. Following the example of her family, Stern who lost her mother at the age of three, and whose father was a Holocaust survivor focused on her work instead of her terror. She became a world-class expert on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder who interviewed extremists around the globe. But while her career took off, her success hinged on her symptoms.

After her ordeal, she no longer felt fear in normally frightening situations. Stern believed she’d disassociated from the trauma altogether, until a dedicated police lieutenant reopened the case. With the help of the lieutenant, Stern began her own investigation to uncover the truth about the town of Concord, her own family, and her own mind. The result is Denial, a candid, courageous, and ultimately hopeful look at a trauma and its aftermath

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

#24 Coping Skills for Kids Workbook by Janine Halloran

Coping Skills for Kids Workbook by Janine Halloran
In today’s world, it is so easy for kids to feel overwhelmed by the people and events in their lives. Of course, one of the best things a parent can do is listen to and talk with their children about the things that may be bothering them. But sometimes it’s nice to be able to offer your children more than just words. Coping Skills for Kids Workbook: Over 75 Coping Strategies to Help Kids Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger by Janine Halloran has some fun ideas for things you can suggest to help your kids deal with stress, anxiety, and anger.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Read more reviews and buy the book here (Amazon)

Search for the audiobook here (Audible)

Written by Zak Parker

Journalist, writer, musician, professional procrastinator. I'll add more here later.

2 Comments

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  1. Dear Zak,

    You made my day by including my memoir “Birth of a New Brain—Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder” in this list. Thanks so much—I’m truly honored!

    Take care,

    Dyane Harwood

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