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.

The books I picked & why

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Building a Life Worth Living: A Memoir

By Marsha M. Linehan,

Book cover of 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.


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

By Jill Bolte Taylor,

Book cover of 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.


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

By Rick Hanson, Richard Mendius,

Book cover of 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.


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

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Book cover of 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.


When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

By Gabor Maté,

Book cover of 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the brain, PTSD, and love?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the brain, PTSD, and love.

The Brain Explore 95 books about the brain
PTSD Explore 52 books about PTSD
Love Explore 161 books about love

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Revolutionary Ride, The War of Art, and Nonviolent Communication if you like this list.