The 10 Best Mental Health Books to Read This Year

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Mental health impacts every aspect of our lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. It affects how we think and feel, and guides us in our decisions and how we act around other people. Mental health also has a direct impact on individuals’ physical health—poor mental health could make an individual more susceptible to certain chronic physical conditions.

Mental illnesses have been around just as long as humans have. Thankfully, we are now living in a society that is beginning to understand the importance of discussing these issues and offering acceptance to the individuals in our lives who struggle with their mental well-being.

Improved psychological health means an improved quality of life. Many therapists, psychologists, and mental health professionals have accepted the responsibility of continuing our mental health education with books that discuss everything from daily stresses to depression.

Here, the best mental health books for improved well-being.

"This Is Depression" by Dr. Diane McIntosh

In "This is Depression", psychiatrist Dr. Diane McIntosh shares what she’s experienced in the 20 years she’s been working with patients who have been diagnosed with depression. She takes readers through common causes of depression, the diagnosis process for depression, and the many possible treatment options an individual may be prescribed.

Her take on the topic is not only founded in research, but her use of stories shared by patients also provides real-life examples for anyone experiencing depression in their own life. This book is a necessary guide for anyone who faces depression—whether their own or a loved one’s—in their life.

Price at time of publication: $18

"We've Been Too Patient: Voices from Radical Mental Health"

"We’ve Been Too Patient" is a collection of 25 stories and essays that portray the unfortunate reality of many who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Editors Kelechi Ubozoh (consultant and keynote speaker) and L.D. Green (advocate and author) diligently curated stories of mental health experiences, all in an attempt to break the stigmas that so easily surround the mental health space.

These stories, while in many cases hard to stomach, shed light on experiences of overmedication, electroconvulsive therapy, involuntary hospitalization, and other traumatic events that can forever alter someone’s life. Their discussion of the systemic problems within mental health care educates readers, empowers writers, and breaks stigmas.

Price at time of publication: $18

"This Too Shall Pass" by Julia Samuel

Psychotherapist Julia Samuel uses hours of conversations with patients to showcase how individuals adapt differently in the face of hardship. Backed by academic, medical research, her analysis of the stories she shares clearly explains how mental health is different for every person, yet the prioritization of positive mental health (and smart, easily enforced coping mechanisms) should remain the same. 

Price at time of publication: $22

"Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting" by Terri Williams

Author and mental health advocate Terri Williams knows that Black people are hurting. She knows because she is one of them. In Black Pain, Williams addresses the topic of depression, a topic that is still taboo, especially in the Black community.

With down-to-earth discussions, Williams tackles emotional pain and how it uniquely affects the Black experience, encouraging women and men to seek the help they need without feeling ashamed.

Having experienced depression first-hand after overworking herself as the head of a demanding public relations company, Williams knows what it takes to finally come to terms with your inner sorrow. She reminds us that we are brave, not cowardly, for facing our traumas head-on and finding solutions with the help of others.

Price at time of publication: $19

"Own Your Self" by Kelly Brogan, MD

While medication is a common method for handling mental health disorders, holistic psychiatrist Kelly Brogan, MD, offers alternatives in "Own Your Self." She discusses how the symptoms we face in mental illness are not always in need of fixing, but instead need to be processed, accepted, and then healed with non-medicated methods.

With research to back her up, she lays out how to identify factors, find transformative emotional opportunities, and find ways to heal your mind from within. Dr. Brogan believes that when there is a prioritization of self-care, individuals will find themselves with clearer, sharper mental health.

Price at time of publication: $27

"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb

Therapist Lori Gottlieb got a taste of her own medicine when, after an incident that left her shaken and confused, she found herself on the therapy couch. She has the education to be the doctor, but now her experience has made her the patient as well—her perspective expands to understand and feel both sides of a therapy appointment.

In her witty, endearing story of self-discovery, she discusses the truths and lies we all tell ourselves, examining the harm they can cause when allowed to be out of control. "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" will make you feel heard while encouraging you to open up and reach out to the people who are there to listen.

Price at time of publication: $28

"Your Happiness Toolkit" by Carrie M. Wrigley, LCSW

Carrie Maxwell Wrigley, LCSW, has been a counselor for 30 years. Her career has largely been focused on providing applicable steps for individuals struggling with their mental health—"Your Happiness Toolkit" follows this focus. It provides a simple understanding of what depression is and what feeds or fights that depression.

She provides a self-assessment model to help individuals identify what their depression is, and she offers 16 self-help tools that help them overcome it and find happiness. "Your Happiness Toolkit" is a guide for both those experiencing psychological issues and loved ones trying to help them along the way.

Price at time of publication: $20

"Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple" by Seth J. Gillihan, PhD

"Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple" takes the concept of mindfulness to the next level with its 10 strategies for improving individuals’ mental health. Author Seth J. Gillihan, Ph.D., focuses on effective tools—like identifying negative thoughts—that allow individuals to find relief from their anxiety and depression. While each tool is thoroughly backed with research, the book serves as an easy-to-read manual full of small, simple steps that lead to success.

Price at time of publication: $16

"Be Calm: Proven Techniques to Stop Anxiety Now" by Jill Weber PhD

Jill Weber, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who helps people of all backgrounds manage their anxiety. "Be Calm" takes all that knowledge and divides it into three sections: feelings, behaviors, and thoughts.

Each section takes the main anxiety symptom an individual finds themself facing and provides an explanation for that symptom, techniques to control it, and a path to finding inner calm. It’s easy to read, understand, and apply to your life, no matter what situation you find yourself in.

Price at time of publication: $19

"Own Your Anxiety" by Julian Brass

Anxiety coach Julian Brass’ career has been spent guiding individuals toward empowerment in the face of anxiety. "Own Your Anxiety" provides readers with tools that focus on what they are able to control, positive action, and motivation.

Instead of viewing anxiety as a disorder to be ashamed of, Brass encourages readers to look at their anxiety as an intimate aspect of who they are—to be shaped, not hidden. He combines medical research and personal experiences to provide a resource that leads readers toward a healthier, happier life.

Price at time of publication: $17

What to Look for in Mental Health Books

Easy to Read

The best mental health books are easy to understand and keep you engaged page after page. Naturally, every person has their preferences. Some enjoy wit and humor, others prefer anecdotes and analogies, and others are compelled by hard science. Choose the style that resonates most with you for an experience that’s both enjoyable and life-changing.

Expert Insights

Our recommendation is to prioritize mental health books that are either written by credentialed experts or lean heavily on insight or research from renowned figures in the field. Doing so provides you with a well-rounded, scientifically-backed reading experience versus a book of mostly opinion or personal experiences. Books with expert insight also often teach you effective methods to improve your mental health.

Sensitive and Empathetic

Feeling judged or unseen are the last things you want to deal with when reading a mental health book. Instead, you want to feel like the author understands, and is sensitive to, your thoughts and personal experiences. Even books that utilize humor to help you remember important ideas and insights should come across as kind and empathetic.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why should I read a mental health book?

    Reading mental health books has many benefits. For instance, they can help you understand past experiences and how they’ve contributed to who you are today.

    They can also teach you effective techniques to cope with and mitigate complex feelings such as stress, anxiety, anger, sadness, and grief.

    Finally, mental health books help you think about things in new ways, broaden your perspective, and improve your overall well-being.

  • Can I still read a mental health book even though I don't have a mental health condition?

    Anyone can read a mental health book, even if they haven’t been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition. Everyone stands to benefit from improving their mental health, which is the ultimate goal of every mental health book on the market.

    Research shows that positive mental health is linked with a higher quality of life, including improved productivity, a fulfilling social life, closer relationships, and higher educational achievements.

    In some cases, you may realize that you would benefit from speaking with a professional who can help you work through deeper issues or provide a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

  • How should I read a mental health book?

    There’s really no right or wrong way to read a mental health book. Our best advice is to read every page thoughtfully and keep a journal handy to take notes. (Hard as we try, sometimes our brains don’t retain everything we read! Taking notes by hand is one of the best ways to remember what we learn.)

    Another reality is that sometimes it can be difficult to finish a book. Choosing a mental health book that’s easy to read and keeps you engaged will help. You can also try creating a set schedule where you read a certain number of pages per day or week to stay on track.

    Speaking with others—such as friends, family, or a therapist—about what you’re reading can help cement the concepts and get you thinking even deeper about your mental health. 

Why Trust Verywell Mind

As a previous fitness coach, long-time wellness enthusiast, and current health editor, Lily Moe understands the importance of prioritizing your mental health. She not only encourages those around her to speak out about their own mental health, but she walks the walk with open discussions, sharing of resources, and advocating for organizations that help us all to learn how to conquer obstacles placed before us. Most importantly, Lily always looks for research and first-hand reviews when it comes to deciding on a product. 

Information presented in this article may be triggering to some people. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained crisis worker. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn About Mental Health.

  2. World Health Organization. Mental health and development: Targeting people with mental health conditions as a vulnerable group.

  3. Wiley RW, Rapp B. The effects of handwriting experience on literacy learning. Psychol Sci. 2021;32(7):1086-1103. doi:10.1177/0956797621993111

By Lily Moe
Lily is a freelance writer for Verywell Fit, Verywell Mind, and Verywell Health.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Grand Canyon University. Lily is a former fitness coach living in Brooklyn.