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Books on Mental Health

Posted July 16, 2018

Tags: artself-care

 At Green Ribbon Club, we understand that self-care comes in different forms–there’s no one way to better your mental health. We also realize that art is an incredibly powerful medium.

Art comes in a variety of mediums, from the written word of books to the visual experience of movies. Certain works of art make excellent contributions to the conversation on mental health. They can educate the masses about the symptoms, stigmas, experiences, and truths about living with a mental disorder; they can provide a pathway to healing and self-care; and they can hold our hand, making us feel less alone. This is why we are starting a series full of media recommendations, from people in the GRC community, as well as students, professors, mental health professionals, and more!

Our first installment is all about the written word. All of these suggested books break the silence of mental health. Let's talk (and read) about it.


(Photo: Courtesy of Cambridge University Press)


(Photo: Courtesy of Dey Street Books)

A Handbook for the Study of Mental Health by Teresa L. Scheid and Eric R. Wright

10% Happier by Dan Harris

“For anyone interested in the role of mental health within America's health systems, I'd highly recommend Scheid and Wright's Handbook for the Study of Mental Health. If you’re interested in improving your own mental health, I would recommend Dan Harris’s 10% Happier for simple ways to boost your own outlook on life.”

–Brian McInerney, GRC Chief Executive Officer


(Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser

“It portrays OCD in an honest unstereotypical way. It lends credibility and hope to those struggling with OCD, anxiety, and mental illness.”

–Sage Moloney, GRC Field Organizer


(Photo: Courtesy of Dutton Books for Young Readers)

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

“I just came across Turtles All the Way Down. Green said that 'This is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood, so while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal.’”

–Anna Jaysing, GRC Chief Financial Officer


"I think it's great that a well-known author has put out a book that talks about issues such as anxiety and depression. It features a main character that I can relate to in those aspects."

–Megan Habel, GRC Chief Operating Officer


(Photo: Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin)


(Photo: Courtesy of Ballantine Books)

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

"Both these books illustrate the psychological effects of war on the mind. The Things They Carried is about soldiers during the Vietnam War and the struggles they faced during and after the war. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque wrote about his experiences as a German soldier in WWII, both during combat and once he returns to Germany after the war."

–Michael Gregory, GRC Director of Policy Analysis


(Photo Courtesy: Alcoholics Anonymous)

Alcoholics Anonymous (also known as The Big Book, the basic text for AA)

“It may be a little controversial suggestion, but it’s great for those who want to understand what it’s like for people who have an addiction. The book is also a great self-help book for anyone, not just recovering alcoholics/addicts.”

–Marissa Ericson, GRC Director of Club Development


(Photo: Courtesy of Twelve)

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

“This is honestly one of the best self-help books (if you want to call it that) I’ve ever read. It teaches you that it’s okay to fail and not know your next step. You don’t need to look to the left or right to feel successful or confident in your own decisions because other people don’t define what’s perfect or the best. Meg Jay uses real-life experiences and stories to paint the image that your twenties set the foundation for your life and it’s not always a linear path, but that’s okay.”

–Tracy Parco, GRC Chief Marketing Officer


(Photo: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“The novel gives a relatively progressive view on how individuals with mental health faced stigma in the past. F. Scott Fitzgerald alludes to the major protagonist, Nicole Davies, as having a clinical manifestation of schizophrenia that is more than just ‘eccentricity,’ the prevailing view of her by outsiders.”

–Arman Fijany, GRC Chief Policy Officer


(Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

Who Says You Can’t? YOU DO by Daniel Chidiac

“Through life sometimes you need motivation to accomplish your dreams. Daniel Chidiac is a life coach who gives step by step instructions on how you can accomplish your dreams. This book shares his personal struggles and how he turned it around to be successful.”

–Alexis D’Epagnier, GRC Director of Social Media



(Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Random House)


(Photo: Courtesy of Houghton, Mifflin Company)

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

"Mrs. Dalloway discusses depression and PTSD and Beautiful Boy talks about substance abuse."

–Sharon Kadosh, GRC Contributing Writer


(Photo: Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers)

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

"One of my all-time favorite books, The Hours brings you into the lives of three women from three different times. It's beautiful, raw, and truthful. Cunningham brings you intimately close to the characters, and how they think and feel when they are experiencing depression. I felt so much less alone and way more understood after reading this."

–Will D'Epagnier, GRC Editor-in-Chief


(Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Random House)


(Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

–Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology at University of California Berkeley and Co-Director of the Greater Good Science Center


(Photo: Courtesy of St. Martin's Press)

Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness by Stephen P. Hinshaw

"I'd recommend my 2017 memoir."

–Stephen P. Hinshaw, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at University of California Berkeley and Professor in Residence and Vice-Chair for Child and Adolescent Psychology at University of California San Francisco. 


"Steve Hinshaw, a faculty member in our psychology department, has written a terrific book about his father's experience of bipolar disorder."

–Sheri Johnson, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at University of California Berkeley and Co-Director of the Greater Good Science Center, Director of Cal Mania (CALM) Program, and Director of Clinical Training & Director of the Clinical Science Program


(Photo: Courtesy of St. Martin's Paperbacks )

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg

–Robert W. Levenson, Ph.D., Psychology Professor at University of California Berkeley


(Photo: Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd)

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

"It gives insight into mental illness as the protagonist suffers from schizophrenia and who narrates the story while in and out of mental hospitals. Also, the author is a registered mental health nurse which kind of validates the mental health system described in here."

–Priti Srivastava, Indian Sign Language (ISL) interpreter


(Photo: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

“TV showrunner Shonda Rhimes talks about how she was so anxiety-stricken to talk in public and she was very introverted. But she took a year and said yes to everything, and she was able to find more time with her family, lose a bunch of weight, and gain so much confidence. I loved reading it because she’s a role model to me in the TV industry. The confidence and sass she delivered in the book were just as real as the fears and problems she opened up about.”

–Laura Gartelman, GRC Community Member


 (Photo: Courtesy of CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)


(Photo: Courtesy of New Harbinger Publications )

Pieces of Me Still Awake by Tomi Fields

The Sum of My Parts by Olga Trujillo

“Each one gives an inside look at living with dissociative identity disorder. They are a bit triggering for anyone who’s experienced trauma, but I still highly recommend them.”

–Haley Thompson, GRC Community Member


(Photo: Courtesy of W. W. Norton & Company)


(Photo: Courtesy of Anchor)


(Photo: Courtesy of Viking/Penguin)


(Photo: Courtesy of Balzer + Bray)


(Photo: Courtesy of Seven Stories Press)

Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Welcome to My Country by Lauren Slater

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws by Kate Bernstein

"My favorite one off of that list is the last one, it’s by this dope Jewish-American author, playwright, performance artist, and gender theorist Kate Bernstein and I think it has helped me through some of my worst moments. It is literally a list of alternatives to suicide, which may be triggering for some, but it can be so helpful if you’re someone who struggles with suicidal ideations, especially if it’s chronic. She suggests some really light funny things, like taking a bath, but she also discusses everything from sex to self-harm to drinking. She really strikes a balance between clearly healthy coping skills and things that, while your therapist may not be 100% down for, she knows is realistic, because the whole goal of the book is to get people out of a suicidal headspace and make them feel less alone."

–Julie Moskowitz, GRC Community Member


Have you read a book that broke the silence on mental health? Interested in writing an article for Enlighten? 

Email submissions@greenribbonclub.org for more details.


(The cover photo: "Books HD" by Abhi Sharma is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) 

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