The Best Books About Mental Health That Won’t Bore You

The Books I Picked & Why

Building a Life Worth Living: A Memoir

By Marsha M. Linehan

Building a Life Worth Living: A Memoir

Why this book?

The memoir of world-renowned psychologist Marsha Linehan, who happens to be someone I greatly admire for creating the treatment that I use: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).  This book relays Linehan’s struggles as a teen and adult with her own mental health condition, including self-harming behaviors and thoughts of suicide, and how her experience contributed to her creation of a therapy that has likely saved millions of lives.


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My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey

By Jill Bolte Taylor

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey

Why this book?

This is the true story of a neuroanatomist’s own stroke at the age of 37. Reading this book helped me to understand the power of the brain and neuroplasticity (the idea that we can change our own brains). Bolte Taylor’s story demonstrates the power of mindfulness to help us change our mind for the better, whether it’s a stroke we’re dealing with, or a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety.


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Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

By Rick Hanson, Richard Mendius

Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

Why this book?

This is a book that nicely combines self-help and concrete strategies (the why) with science (the how) in a wonderfully understandable and approachable way. Hanson paves the way for people to not only learn how to make changes to improve their emotional wellness, but to understand how the strategies they’re learning actually help.


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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

By Bessel Van Der Kolk

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Why this book?

Not only does this book help trauma survivors understand their experience (therefore also validating their experience of their trauma symptoms), but it provides hope to survivors of trauma through discussion of different treatments to help them move toward healing. For clinicians like myself working with survivors of trauma, Van Der Kolk’s work helps us understand the rationale for the strategies we’re teaching our clients, helping us be better informed in order to help our clients recover.


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When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

By Gabor Mate

When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

Why this book?

Filled with moving stories of real people, this is a book that I’ve often recommended to my clients when their physical health is compromised. This book examines the mind-body connection, helping people recognize what their body is trying to tell them through chronic illness, and often resulting in positive change.


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