The Best 9 Books About Mental Health

By | May 12, 2019

May is national Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s a topic that we give a lot of attention and love to here at Nutrition Stripped.

If you think that nutrition has nothing to do with mental health and wellbeing, we’re here to shine a different light on that thought. Our philosophy is rooted in combining the science of nutrition and the art of healthy living, which is about honoring different ways we nourish ourselves.

As human beings, to reach our optimal wholeness and wellness, health and wellbeing truly require us to combine many pillars of our life from nutrition, sleep, stress management, to finding our purpose and joy. That’s why mental health is so important to openly talk about in an educational, conversational, and supportive way so mental health disorders, illnesses, and experiences become less stigmatized.

Mental Health Matters

We all have our own stories, experiences, challenges, and successes in finding what works for us to support our unique mental health and wellbeing. Because of that, I wanted to create an answer to the many questions I get as a wellness coach and from our community about books and resources that can support your journey. Many of these books are directly related to mental health, but I’m a firm believer as our philosophy here at NS states, that our health is all integrated.

Personally, I’ve not only dealt with depression and anxiety at a very young age, but also have experiences of trauma, mental illness, and addiction in those around me including family and close relationships. These experiences took a tremendous toll on my mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellbeing, which is why I’m so deeply passionate about talking about it and providing resources that could potentially help someone find their unique solution to find support.

These experiences and challenges with my mental health were some of the most beautiful experiences in my life — which may sound contradictory — but these experiences with mental health challenged me to explore my own wellbeing, seek help when needed, and do the internal daily work that requires continual practice, love, and patience. It also opened me up spiritually to find gratitude in my daily life.

As much as it’s about mental health, it’s about our physical, emotional, and spiritual health too. For that reason, these 9 books about mental health also dive into self-exploration in spirituality, a topic that I integrate into everything I do and has personally helped me through my journey. I hope this list provides at least one great resource for your unique needs and going with the resource that speaks to you.

Also to note, as more books are created or as the community shares their favorites, this list will continually grow — so save this one for later!

The Best 9 Books About Mental Health

The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

I first read this book when I was 20 and going through a very dark time and at that time, I also sought professional support with a therapist and read this book on my own time. This text had a profound shift in my life and to this day, over 10 years later, I read it multiple times a year.

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The Power Of Now is teaching the reader about small things you can do to live in the present moment, which is the author’s philosophy that this way of living provides more joy and awareness.

“World-renowned spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle conveys simple wisdom that transcends any particular religion, doctrine, or guru. His #1 NYT bestselling book is a modern classic in the field of personal growth and spirituality; Oprah Winfrey credits The Power of Now with helping her to “get through September 11, 2001” and she featured it on her December 2002 “Oprah’s Favorite Things” show. A native of Germany, Eckhart Tolle attended the University of London, and upon graduation went on to become a research scholar and supervisor at Cambridge University. At 29, a profound spiritual awakening virtually dissolved his personal identity and sparked a radical change in the course of his life. It marked the beginning of an intense inward journey and he devoted the next decade to understanding, deepening, and integrating that transformation. For the past ten years, he has acted as a counselor and spiritual guide, facilitating sold-out groups in Europe and North America. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.” — Amazon, about the author.

Where to purchase: Amazon

Geared towards: self-development, observation of self/ego, and spiritual awareness

The Five Minute Journal by Intelligent Change

Less of a book to read and more of an exercise to do each day for at least 5 minutes as the title suggests. This journal can be a great tool to use if you find it challenging to reflect on the small or large things you’re grateful for each day. Gratitude is a close feeling to joy and can help us stay in the present moment, even if it’s just 5 minutes of your day.

Where to purchase: Amazon

Geared towards: gratitude, reflections, self-awareness

Dare By Barry McDonagh

This book is a step-by-step guide to use tools the author teaches the reader to use in real life, in real anxiety triggering situations. Not just a book, but Dare also comes with a free app for the readers and also audio files where the author shares more of the story.

“Based on hard science and over 10 years helping people who suffer from anxiety, Barry McDonagh shares his most effective technique in this new book. The DARE technique can be used by everyone, regardless of age or background, to live a life free from anxiety or panic attacks.”— Good Reads, about the author.

Where to purchase: Amazon

Geared towards: anxiety, stress

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne PhD

Not just an educational book and text, but an actual workbook to use as a tool to work through on your own time or in conjunction with professional help. The author specializes in anxiety and phobias and shares with the reader actionable and effective resources to support them on their journey.

“Written by a leading expert in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and a classic in its field, this fully revised edition offers powerful, step-by-step treatment strategies for panic disorders, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), worry, and fear. You will also find updated information compatible with the DSM-V, as well as current information on medications and treatment, nutrition, mindfulness training, exposure therapy, and the latest research in neurobiology. Whether you suffer from anxiety and phobias yourself or are a professional working with this population, this book will provide the latest treatment solutions for overcoming the fears that stand in the way of living a full, happy life. This workbook can be used on its own or as a supplement to therapy.”

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Where to purchase: Amazon

Geared towards: anxiety, stress, self-help, behavioral change

The Four Agreements

Another personal favorite, this book is more of a framework of how to live daily life. It’s based on four principles or four agreements to make to yourself each day about how to interact with yourself, with others around you, as a way to build more self-awareness which can support better stress management, relieve anxiety, and triggers.

“In The Four Agreements, bestselling author don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.”— Amazon, about the book.

Where to purchase: Amazon

Geared towards: self-help, self-awareness, communication

May You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Lori is a therapist who works with people one on one and also goes to therapy. She shares her professional stories of her clients in a funny and entertaining way, yet also very insightful.

“Lori Gottlieb is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author who writes The Atlantic’s weekly “Dear Therapist” advice column. A contributing editor at The Atlantic, she also writes regularly for The New York Times, and has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN, and NPR.”

Where to purchase: Amazon

Geared towards: self-help, playful humor of the human condition

Heart Talk by Cleo Wade

This book is a quick read but is meant to serve more of a daily guide to read a page or two daily. The author shares beautiful poetry about the human experience from love, anxiety, to providing affirmations and mantras inspired by her storytelling. It’s as beautiful visually with large quotes and affirmations as it is motivational.

“Cleo Wade works to promote a more peaceful, loving, and accepting world for all through poetry, community building, storytelling, public art, and her uplifting social media presence. Cleo believes that kindness is easier than you think, bravery belongs to all of us, and love is something we all deserve (especially the kind that lives within yourself). She has been featured on lists of America’s 50 Most Influential Women by Marie Claire and 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, along with features in VogueElleNew YorkEssenceWGlamour, and The New York Times.” — Amazon, about the author.

Where to purchase: Amazon

Geared towards: affirmations, daily mantras, self-confidence, awareness

The Body Keeps Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

As a leading specialist in trauma, the author shares stories, experiences, and tools that can support readers with life after trauma. The author also shares what trauma can look and feel like outside of what we might think trauma is.

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“Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.”

Where to purchase: Amazon

Geared towards: trauma support, self-help, psychology

Essentialism by Greg McOwen

This isn’t a typical mental health book, but it does support those who lean towards work burnout. The author teaches the reader how to get clear about your priorities in life which contribute to a persons wellbeing by setting boundaries and establishing your priorities.

“By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us. Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.” — Amazon, about the book.

Where to purchase: Amazon

Geared towards: burnout, work/life balance

Need Help?

Please click here for a full list of incredibly helpful resources on mental health by the National Alliance of Mental Illness.

The NS Verdict

Knowing when to read self-help books and when to skip them to seek professional advice and help instead, is key.

Reading self-help books or books about mental health can not only be healing but can help you feel less alone in this journey. Books about mental health can also share new tools and strategies to try out to see if they support you. While books about mental health don’t take the place of professional support from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or doctor, they can help you fill in the gap with doing your own work on your own time.

What resources such as books, podcasts, community forums, etc. have supported you? Are there certain daily practices you engage in that strengthen your mental health and wellbeing? Share below or come over to Instagram to share in real time with the community — someone might need to hear your voice.

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