The best books about mental health that won’t bore you

Who am I?

Since 2001 I’ve been working in the field of mental health and I am passionate about finding new and better ways of helping my clients – to understand themselves, to find the energy and power within themselves to keep going and make positive changes, and to reduce their suffering and build a life worth living. I’ve often found that when I can ground the skills I’m teaching or the strategies I’m using with my client to science, I get more buy-in and follow-through from people.

I wrote...

Calming the Emotional Storm: Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Manage Your Emotions and Balance Your Life

By Sheri Van Dijk,

Book cover of Calming the Emotional Storm: Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Manage Your Emotions and Balance Your Life

What is my book about?

When you have difficulties managing your emotions, it can feel like you’re losing control of your whole life. Anger, hurt, grief, worry, and other intense feelings can be overwhelming, and how you react to these emotions can impact your ability to maintain relationships, succeed at work, or even think straight! If you find it difficult to understand, express, and process intense emotions—and most of us do—this book is for you.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Building a Life Worth Living: A Memoir

Why did I love 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.

By Marsha M. Linehan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Building a Life Worth Living as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marsha Linehan tells the story of her journey from suicidal teenager to world-renowned developer of the life-saving behavioral therapy DBT, using her own struggle to develop life skills for others.

“This book is a victory on both sides of the page.”—Gloria Steinem

“Are you one of us?” a patient once asked Marsha Linehan, the world-renowned psychologist who developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy. “Because if you were, it would give all of us so much hope.” 

Over the years, DBT had saved the lives of countless people fighting depression and suicidal thoughts, but Linehan had never revealed that her pioneering work was…

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

By Jill Bolte Taylor, Jill Bolte Taylor,

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

Why did I love 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.

By Jill Bolte Taylor, Jill Bolte Taylor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Stroke of Insight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Transformative...[Taylor's] experience...will shatter [your] own perception of the world."-ABC News

The astonishing New York Times bestseller that chronicles how a brain scientist's own stroke led to enlightenment

On December 10, 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor, a thirty-seven- year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist experienced a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. As she observed her mind deteriorate to the point that she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life-all within four hours-Taylor alternated between the euphoria of the intuitive and kinesthetic right brain, in which she felt a sense of complete well-being and peace, and…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Rick Hanson, Richard Mendius,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Buddha's Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Gandhi, and the Buddha all had brains built essentially like anyone else's, yet they were able to harness their thoughts and shape their patterns of thinking in ways that changed history.

With new breakthroughs in modern neuroscience and the wisdom of thousands of years of contemplative practice, it is possible for us to shape our own thoughts in a similar way for greater happiness, love, compassion, and wisdom.

Buddha's Brain joins the forces of modern neuroscience with ancient contemplative teachings to show readers how they can work toward greater emotional well-being, healthier relationships, more effective actions, and…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Body Keeps the Score as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestseller

"Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society." -Alexander McFarlane, Director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies

A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller

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. Dr. Bessel van der…

Book cover of When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

Why did I love 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.

By Gabor Maté,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked When the Body Says No as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can a person literally die of loneliness? Is there a connection between the ability to express emotions and Alzheimer's disease? Is there such a thing as a 'cancer personality'?

Drawing on deep scientific research and Dr Gabor Mate's acclaimed clinical work, When the Body Says No provides the answers to critical questions about the mind-body link - and the role that stress and our emotional makeup play in an array of common diseases.

When the Body Says No:

- Explores the role of the mind-body link in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the brain, PTSD, and stress?

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