Our List of the Best Mental Health Books That Will Make You Think and Change Your Perspective (Updated 2018)
Not all of these books are technically "mental health" books, but I share them because they have shaped who I am as a mental health advocate. May they bring you as much wisdom, solace, and peace as they have brought me in my journey to live a mentally healthy life.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and creator of logotherapy, a therapeutic framework geared towards helping people find meaning in their lives.
Frankl lived through unimaginable suffering as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Despite everything he endured, he managed to find meaning in the bleakest of environments, under the most horrifying of circumstances.
The wisdom in this book is timeless and has touched the lives of the millions of people who have read it. Frequently recommended by world leaders and visionaries as one of the most influential books they've ever read, I wholeheartedly agree that this book is life-changing.
Read it now.
I first learned of this book from reading the writing of one of my favorite authors, Ryan Holiday, who stated that "it is the greatest book ever written."
There is truly no book like it. Even if you are not a fan of stoic philosophy, and even if you are not a fan of any philosophy, this book is a must-read.
Like "Man's Search for Meaning," Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" is full of line after line of timeless wisdom. The Roman philosopher-emperor wrote this in his tent at night after leading his troops in battle during the day.
His thoughts on what it means to be a good person and lead a virtuous life are as accessible now as they were thousands of years ago.
The Body Keeps the Score
This is the first book I recommend for anyone who has an interest in understanding the impact of trauma on the body.
Whether you are looking to become more "trauma-informed" or simply want to make sense of trauma that you experienced growing up, this will be your bible.
Dr. Van Der Kolk was one of the first researchers to study the impact of trauma on the body, and his writing is both elegant and informative. If you've never considered the ways in which trauma can lodge itself in the body, prepare to have your mindset shifted.
Pema Chodron is amazing. You could pick up any book she has written, at random, and learn something that will change your life for the better.
This book especially speaks to anyone going through hard times. This society is one that is obsessed with achievement and with egocentric leadership and confidence.
But what happens when life falls apart, as it inevitably does? Who is there to speak to the unfortunate realities of life? Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun living in Nova Scotia, offers a breath of fresh air for those suffocating from the lingering staleness of unsolicited advice.
Read this--and come to know yourself and others better than you ever thought you could.
Society has a bad habit of labeling and diagnosing children when there is more to the story. There is always more to the story--and in this beautiful tribute, Lillian Rubin chronicles the tales of children who have overcome tremendous adversity.
You may not see yourself in the specific details of the trauma experienced by these children, but you will, in general terms, gain and understanding of mental health and of the great resilience of the human spirit.
It is possible to move past simplistic descriptions of mental illness and people who are called "bad" or "difficult." To understand our mental health and how it impacts our functioning, we must come to learn the entire story.
Put in its proper context, it's impossible to not empathize with someone once we know his or her story.
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