The best books that help individuals and communities respond to traumatic events

Sharon L. Cohen Author Of Disaster Mental Health Community Planning: A Manual for Trauma-Informed Collaboration
By Sharon L. Cohen

Who am I?

Sometimes you need to search for the next roads to take in your life; other times these roads approach you. I was looking for new ways to use my long-term communication and mental health advocacy skills and then, sadly, the Sandy Hook shooting occurred. I immediately wanted to help community members ease their pain and assist cities nationwide to greatly improve their disaster mental health response. I never expected a pandemic would arrive only two months after I published, making my book all the more important. Now climate change is exacerbating our already stressful times, and we must act to stem mental health issues before they become out of hand.  


I wrote...

Disaster Mental Health Community Planning: A Manual for Trauma-Informed Collaboration

By Robert W. Schmidt, Sharon L. Cohen,

Book cover of Disaster Mental Health Community Planning: A Manual for Trauma-Informed Collaboration

What is my book about?

In 2012, tragedy hit my Newtown, Connecticut community with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. We weren’t prepared for this traumatic event’s long-term emotional impact. Many still suffer. Newtown isn’t alone. Most communities have a plan for “medical” emergency response but not for “mental health” disaster response. About 25% of those impacted, especially the most vulnerable, will suffer PTSD within six weeks if not receiving trauma-informed care. The trauma ripple moves from survivors, to first responders, and the entire community and causes depression, anxiety, relationship discord, substance abuse, and suicide. Traumatic events include violence, natural disasters, pandemics, climate change, and societal instability—all facing us today. This book’s roadmap details the ways communities can help individuals emotionally prepare for and respond to traumatic events.    

The books I picked & why

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Everything in Its Path

By Kai T. Erikson,

Book cover of Everything in Its Path

Why this book?

This classic award-winning book is a must-read for anyone interested in traumatic events. Sociologist Kai Erikson was the first to equate a major disaster with individual and community upheaval, based on the 1976 Buffalo Creek dam flood. He details how this event traumatized individuals and caused a breakdown of community relationships and a rise in crime, unethical behavior, and major out-migration. Many of the emotional and social effects of disasters had not been discussed or treated when this book was written. Much has been learned since. However, Erikson stresses that many of the psychological and sociological problems continue to exist when calamities occur today and must be resolved. 

Everything in Its Path

By Kai T. Erikson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything in Its Path as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Finding Resilience: Unlock the Door to Mental Health and Happiness

By Robert W. Schmidt, Kirsten D. Hammer (illustrator),

Book cover of Finding Resilience: Unlock the Door to Mental Health and Happiness

Why this book?

Bob Schmidt is a licensed professional counselor in Sandy Hook, Connecticut who has worked diligently to help shooting survivors and their families as well as others in the community with their emotional needs. He is known for utilizing state-of-the-art trauma therapy such as “Tapping,” (Emotional Freedom Technique), which has proven successful in treating PTSD. This book includes a wealth of examples of wellness techniques and trauma-response activities that have proven helpful in relieving high levels of stress and PTSD. These activities make individuals more resilient, so they are better prepared to face life’s challenges and learn to accept the ones they cannot change. Resiliency is one of the keys to happiness, and is increasingly found as a productive way to prepare for any possible disturbing event in the future. 

Finding Resilience: Unlock the Door to Mental Health and Happiness

By Robert W. Schmidt, Kirsten D. Hammer (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding Resilience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

By Bruce D. Perry, Oprah Winfrey,

Book cover of What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

Why this book?

Dr. Bruce Perry, a well-known trauma expert, neuroscientist, and psychiatrist, and icon Oprah Winfrey break down mental illness barriers and hold conversations with emotionally struggling individuals. Instead of asking, “What is wrong with you?” they ask, “What events in your past led to how you feel and act today?” Trauma, especially childhood trauma, is covered, with the emphasis on how to renew one’s personal sense of worth and become more resilient. Readers learn what can cause trauma and lack of self-worth and how individuals can become strong, thrive, and move successfully through life. What experiences can lead to resilience rather than trauma? In these days of high stress, we must learn how to build each others’ self-determination and strengths that make us better humans.  

What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

By Bruce D. Perry, Oprah Winfrey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Mental Health Effects of Covid-19

By Ahmed A. Moustafa (editor),

Book cover of Mental Health Effects of Covid-19

Why this book?

This comprehensive book provides information on the impact of COVID worldwide as it is currently understood, so future researchers will have a basis for comparison. The book’s authors address factors such as lockdowns, job loss, grief, and uncertainty that have led to depression, distress, anxiety, and PTSD. Also covered is how different world populations as refugees, at-risk populations as the elderly and frail, and roles as parents have been both mentally and physically impacted. This information will help communities develop programs to help relieve mental health concerns and protect people against similar threats in years to come. The book also includes wellness activities like meditation that help reduce the negative effects of COVID on mental health.

Mental Health Effects of Covid-19

By Ahmed A. Moustafa (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mental Health Effects of Covid-19 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The physical effects of COVID-19 are felt globally. However, one issue that has not been sufficiently addressed is the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens worldwide are enduring widespread lockdowns; children are out of school; and millions have lost their jobs, which has caused anxiety, depression, insomnia, and distress. Mental Health Effects of COVID-19 provides a comprehensive analysis of mental health problems resulting from COVID-19, including depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts, trauma, and PTSD. The book includes chapters detailing the impact of COVID-19 on the family's well-being and society dynamics. The book concludes with an…

Eight Key Brain Areas of Mental Health and Illness

By Jennifer Sweeton,

Book cover of Eight Key Brain Areas of Mental Health and Illness

Why this book?

We are continually learning how the brain works through the work of neuroscientists. Dr. Sweeton uses her knowledge in the field to give readers a view into our brain and what we know at the present time about its functioning, how it is affected by mental illness, and what changes can occur through brain-based therapy. We have made great strides in helping individuals with such illnesses as schizophrenia and bipolar and learning how disorders such as PTSD occur and impact the brain. The book’s information is reader-friendly. The more we know about this fascinating area of the body, the better treatments that can be developed to help those who suffer from trauma-impacting events become more resilient and whole. 

Eight Key Brain Areas of Mental Health and Illness

By Jennifer Sweeton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eight Key Brain Areas of Mental Health and Illness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recent advances in affective neuroscience reveal long-held secrets of mental health and illness in the brain. However, the gap between brain science and clinical practice is wide, and many clinicians find neuroscience to be tedious, overly technical and laborious to learn. Eight Key Brain Areas of Mental Health and Illness bridges this gap, providing key information about the neuroscience of mental illness so clinicians can apply it in their work.

In this handbook, clinical psychologist and best-selling author Jennifer Sweeton details the eight main areas of the brain affected by mental illness, how brain changes show up in the therapy…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in mental health, mental disorders, and West Virginia?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about mental health, mental disorders, and West Virginia.

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