When it comes to typical self-help books, most people are familiar with the idea of reading to learn more about how to take care of their mental health. While some are enthralled with these books, others are a bit burnt out from the same advice or lifestyle changes. Here, we have a list of four nonfiction mental health books that talk about mental health in a bit of a different light. From personal stories to illustrations, these four choices are not only ones we’ve personally enjoyed but are top picks for books about mental health and self-care in a real and straightforward way. Hopefully, at least one, if not all, becomes a source of insight and inspiration for you.
Book 1: The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron
At first glance at the title, you might be thinking of one of two things. Some might be closer to thinking, “Oh! That’s great, that’s so me!”, while others might be a bit offended at the idea of being “highly sensitive.” When we first got this book, we were in the second category, but that’s what makes it so impactful. The idea of being sensitive is given a new light and new meaning and instead becomes a way of normalizing having different experiences due to your mental health.
Dr. Elaine Aron, a research and clinical psychologist, writes this nonfiction book to help people grasp the idea of taking on the world alongside mental health. She explains changes that can help make you feel that you are living a fuller life, and normalizing the way you feel in different contexts along with scientific research, and a discussion of anti-depressants. This is pretty close to a self-help book but has a different spin on it backed by research that makes it unique.
Book 2: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
This is a memoir or personal story written by novelist Matt Haig. It begins when he reached his lowest point with his mental health, and narrates his personal experiences of beginning to not only recover but spend time with and understand his mental health and how it truly affects him. It focuses on what it takes to cope with and handle depression and anxiety through the lens point of what this struggle looked like for Matt.
Because this isn’t a self-help book, the idea of advice is a little different. Reading about someone else’s authentic struggles can help you feel a little less alone with yours. Sometimes a great way of coping is by seeing how others have tried, and stealing tips and tricks to apply to your mental health to see what works. Matt Haig hoped to inspire people to keep going, and to know that there is a light somewhere at the end of the tunnel worth working towards even in your lowest moments. For people who need a hand, or just to know they aren’t alone in all of this, this book could be a great choice.
Book 3: The Self-Care Project by Jayne Hardy
A big proponent in everyone’s mental health journey is the idea and need for self-care. What makes this book worth reading is not only the journey of how to take care of yourself, but it focuses on the why. Self-care can be easily put in a light that feels selfish or makes you feel guilty for taking care of yourself. This book gets to the core of it, and the real fact is that taking care of yourself is one of the most important tools you have to feel better, and no one should make you feel bad about it.
The Self-Care Project is for people that need help figuring out how self-care works, and a little validation that they’re worthy of doing it. (And let’s be real. Everyone needs at least a little help with that.) This book is practical and to the point. It helps you explore what self-care means for you and how to find room for it in your everyday life in an achievable way.
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Book 4: It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot
The last recommendation for nonfiction mental health books actually comes in the form of a graphic novel. This book uses illustrated comics to talk about a variety of topics such as mood disorders, anxiety, body image issues, existential feelings, and more. It’s a way to break down hard and dense topics into a way anyone can understand and enjoy, making it more relatable and easier to digest when things are feeling too hard.
The book is a day-to-day showcase of life through these humorous drawings and short narratives. It shows the reality of things being not okay and shows that that’s okay too. It’s easy to take in and can help make mental health feel a little less daunting for a moment as you take in someone else’s perspective of going through the exact same things.
Reading, learning, and thinking about mental health and your own self-care can be so transformative. Sometimes, these types of nonfiction mental health books can help you feel less alone and give you the courage to reach out for help if you need it. Or, they can simply further the self-care you already putting into practice. Wherever you’re at with your mental health care journey, we hope you found this list of mental health nonfiction books helpful. And if you’re interested in getting more personalized help that will meet you where you’re at, we want to help. Connect with us today to get the support you deserve.