17 Books To Read For World Mental Health Day

Hey Pals,

Today is World Mental Health Day and I wanted to make this my last book recommendation collab of 2021. With a mixture of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, there is something for almost everyone. We tried to gather a selection of books with a variety of representation. Anxiety, Depression and Eating Disorders saturate publishing as ‘acceptable’ and ‘glamorous’ mental illnesses to have. Whilst we know that isn’t true, and all three are very difficult to deal with, I wanted to give my love to other conditions but found it a bit of a struggle to really find representation in books I hadn’t read. My list includes: Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Grief/Loss, Addiction/Alcohol Dependence, Eating Disorders, Gender related Dysphoria and mental health struggles. I would love to find more books around OCD, BPD, Schizophrenia, Bipolar, and other heavily demonised conditions, so if you know of any please leave the recommendation in the comments!

Go check out the other collaborators: Aisling of ThisDreamsAlive, Lauren of Splint Up Look Sharp, Angel of Avid Reader, Riyah of Riyah Speaks.

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This post contains affiliate links, using my links to purchase these books supports me, the authors and indie bookshops!

We Can Do Better Than This by Amelia Abraham: We talk about achieving ‘LGBTQ+ equality’, but around the world, LGBTQ+ people are still suffering discrimination and extreme violence. How do we solve this urgent problem, allowing queer people everywhere the opportunity to thrive? In We Can Do Better Than This, 35 voices explore this question. Through deeply moving stories and provocative new arguments on safety and visibility, dating and gender, care and community, they present a powerful manifesto for how – together – we can start to create a better future. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver: When Liam Cooper’s older brother Ethan is killed in a hit-and-run, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationship with his two best friends. Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam finds themself sharing time with Marcus, Ethan’s best friend, and through Marcus, Liam finds the one person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through, for the better, and the worse. This book is about grief. But it’s also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should. GoodReads.

The Brown Sisters trilogy by Talia Hibbert: Specifically Take A Hint, Dani Brown but all touch upon mental health topics. Author GoodReads here. Buy Here and support me too!

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom. When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse? Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs. Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

Check out my a little spooky a little gay watch list from last October!

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher: Finally, after four hit novels, Carrie Fisher comes clean (well, sort of ) with the crazy truth that is her life in her first-ever memoir. In Wishful Drinking, adapted from her one-woman stage show, Fisher reveals what it was really like to grow up a product of “Hollywood in-breeding,” come of age on the set of a little movie called Star Wars, and become a cultural icon and bestselling action figure at the age of nineteen. Intimate, hilarious, and sobering, Wishful Drinking is Fisher, looking at her life as she best remembers it (what do you expect after electroshock therapy?). It’s an incredible tale: the child of Hollywood royalty—Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher—homewrecked by Elizabeth Taylor, marrying (then divorcing, then dating) Paul Simon, having her likeness merchandised on everything from Princess Leia shampoo to PEZ dispensers, learning the father of her daughter forgot to tell her he was gay, and ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher: Fisher beautifully brings readers the inside of Hollywood through a web of humor, drugs, relationships, Hollywood Party Terror, and much more. The plot centers on a 30-year-old actress named Suzanne Vale, and follows her challenges as she overcomes her drug addiction, gets back into the swing of things, and falls in love, sort of. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

Biting Anorexia: A Firsthand Account of an Internal War by Lucy Howard Taylor: So begins Biting Anorexia, an extraordinary account of a teenage girl’s descent into the tortured existence of anorexia and her arduous, remarkable recovery. Much of this unflinchingly candid memoir is ripped directly from the pages of author Lucy Howard-Taylor’s diary as she struggled with the torturous condition, offering a rare glimpse into the thoughts and fears that grip the minds of those struggling with anorexia, the most fatal of all psychiatric illnesses. Tinged with a wicked sense of humor, Lucy’s beautifully written, penetrating insights capture the overpowering anxiety that comes with anorexia and reveal the challenge of recovery. This courageous and compelling story will inspire and support those troubled with the condition, and their family and friends, the world over. GoodReads.

Hungry by Crystal Renn: An inspiring and cautionary tale for women of all ages, Hungry is an uplifting memoir with a universal message about body image, beauty and self-confidence. GoodReads.

check out my non-fiction TBR blog post!

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz: Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown. Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself? GoodReads.

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read by Phillipa Perry: The most influential relationships are between parents and children. Yet for so many families, these relationships go can wrong and it may be difficult to get back on track. In The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad that You Did), renowned psychotherapist Philippa Perry shows how strong and loving bonds are made with your children and how such attachments give a better chance of good mental health, in childhood and beyond. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

WinterGirls by Laurie Halse Anderson: Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss—her life—and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory, and feeling guilty for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all—hope. GoodReads.

Madness, Distress and the Politics of Disablement by Helen Spandler: This book explores the challenges of applying disability theory and policy, including the social model of disability, to madness and distress. It brings together leading scholars and activists from Europe, North America, Australia, and India, to explore the relationship between madness, distress, and disability. Whether mental health problems should be viewed as disabilities is a pressing concern, especially since the inclusion of psychosocial disability in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This book will appeal to policy makers, practitioners, activists, and academics. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

Check out my a little spooky and a little gay reading recs video for October!

The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk: Ironically, I’ve heard this writer was also abusive I’ll attach some links if I find them but I recommend buying this book second hand if possible. 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. Such experiences inevitably leave traces on minds, emotions, and even on biology. Sadly, trauma sufferers frequently pass on their stress to their partners and children. Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

Gender Trauma by Alex Iantaffi: Exploring how the essentialism of the gender binary impacts on clients of all genders, this ground-breaking book examines how historical, social and culturally gendered trauma emerges in clinical settings. Weaving together systemic ideas, autoethnography, narrative therapy and somatic experiencing, the book charts the history of the gender binary and its roots in colonialism, as well as the way this culture is perpetuated intergenerationally, and the impact this trauma has on all bodies, gender identities and experiences. Featuring clinical vignettes, exercises and reflexive practices, this is an accessible and intersectional guide for professionals to develop their understanding of gender-derived trauma for supporting clients. Highlighting the importance of applying a trauma-informed approach in practice, this book provides insights as to how we can work towards collective healing, for future generations and for ourselves. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

Books by Alice Oseman: from the Heartstopper graphic novels, to her novels, all have topics of mental health and illness. Radio Silence, Solitaire, I Was Born For This. The Author’s GoodReads Here.

Heartstopper: Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…? Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner… Buy Here and support me too!

Radio Silence: What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong? Frances has been a study machine with one goal. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. Then Frances meets Aled, and for the first time she’s unafraid to be herself. So when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is caught between who she was and who she longs to be. Now Frances knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys disappeared… Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has. Engaging with themes of identity, diversity and the freedom to choose, Radio Silence is a tour de force by the most exciting writer of her generation. Buy Here and support me too!

Solitaire: In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story. My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now. Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden. I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden. I really don’t. Buy Here and support me too!

I Was Born For This: For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world. Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare. Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be. Buy Here and support me too!

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I hope you enjoyed reading this recommendations list, please check out my other themed recommendations lists here: books by trans and nonbinary writers, disabled neurodivergent and chronically ill authors, nonfiction LGBTQ+ books. Don’t forget to check out the other collaborators in this series. Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Twitch, and follow the blog. Check out and consider supporting my Kofi. And all linked books are using my affiliate links, you can support me, the authors and indie bookshops using my links!

~ Artie

they/them

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