Notes: Mental Health Books

Notes: Mental Health Books

What are mental health books?

First, definition: mental health books are books that address mental wellness as a theme or topic. There are self-help books, theory books, fiction stories, non-fiction memoirs, poems, and every style of written, performance and visual art you can imagine.

As a Survivor who loves stories and words, mental health books are a part of my life. I consider both non-fiction and fiction books to be mental health books, and I write my own. This is an overview of my personal mental health book guide which I would give to my own family and friends. 

Family Mental Health

I have noticed some books thematically focus on the mental health of family members and key characters like the Sound and the Fury's Benji. Other works reflect inward, like Sylvia Plath's poetry. My memoir in verse or memoir poem, LIGHTWORK, features topics on mental health of parents and loved ones. It is a key component of my advocacy work speaking to memories in the New York Times. 


Although both of these books have emotionally charged and sad themes, their exploration of mental health does foster feelings of empathy and connection. Mental health books can be about finding the words for your feelings or understanding how it feels to experience other mental wellness states. 

Writing and reading memoir can be healing. The Great Science has established that therapeutic writing does work for mental wellness. You can free write for fifteen minutes over four days and dramatically transform your wellness based only on that activity. 

Reading the writings of others can be equally power. I completed a manuscript memoir in this method alongside a writing group over years. A memoir I recommend that explores mental health themes is the Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. In a compelling retelling of her childhood, we meet characters who struggle with mental wellness and see how their struggles impact their children.