Mental Health and Self Care 2021: 10 books to read to help improve your mental wellbeing

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A good self-care book can provide expert advice on how to develop resilience, break bad habits, and deal with invasive thoughts. Here are our recommendations

If you would like to improve your mental health, a self-help book can be a good place to start, providing expert advice without you having to leave your home. They offer a cost effective means of learning good behaviours and habits to help you become more productive, develop a new daily routine, curb anxious thoughts, or feel more courageous in difficult situations.

Mental health charity MIND advocates the use of self-care to help improve your mental wellbeing, saying “Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems.

“They may also help prevent some problems from developing or getting worse.’”

A great book can teach you these techniques.

Try and choose a book suited to you and your needs, taking into account factors such as your age, how you are feeling and what you wish to gain. A great self-care book will become a guide you can refer to whenever you feel you need it.

These are our picks of some of the best mental health self-care books available.

Please do speak to a medical professional if you need further help with your mental health. To contact the Samaritans, please call 116 123.

Looking After Your Mental Health, Louie Stowell and Alice James

Best for: children looking to learn how to navigate mental health concerns.

Talking to children about mental health can be tricky, but this gets that conversation going.

Written especially for young people (late primary school and early secondary school age), it deals with many topics children of this age are confronted with: social media and staying safe online, how to deal with emotions such as feeling worried or sad, and understanding relationships.

It provides a sensitive look at children’s mental health, and can be read by both children themselves and their parents, without being overwhelming or daunting. Nancy Leschnikoff provides lovely illustrations.

No Such Thing As Normal: What My Mental Illness Has Taught Me About Mental Wellness

Journalist Bryony Gordon isn’t an expert on mental illness, but has, in her words, “a lot of personal experience of it.”

She makes for a deeply empathic, kind, frank presence within this book, where she shares her experiences of addiction, medication, and therapy. There is compassionate advice regarding walking, sleep, establishing boundaries and CBT.

It’s a terrifically accessible book if you prefer advice in the most relatable of terms, rather than ‘therapy-speak.’

Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers and Employees, Gill Hasson, Donna Butler

Best for: anyone in the workplace - employer, and employee

This book has extra significance at the moment as we all consider - and as do our bosses - whether we’re going to stay working from home on a longer term basis or return to the office. It can engender excitement or anxiety, and it’s worth considering how the work environment makes us feel.

It uses real-life examples to tackle a variety of issues, including how employers can provide a better working environment for mental wellbeing and how to address issues of mental health in employees with care.

Published at the start of the pandemic, it also gives expert advice on the changing workplace as well as guidance for employees on how to improve their mental health.


Best for: practical tips

This new release promises to improve your mental health in just five weeks by giving you the tools you need to have a happier and healthier mind for life. It’s a bold claim, but the author’s techniques have already had the approval of pop star Pixie Lott and Doctor and TV presenter Dr Zoe Williams.

It aims to normalise the conversation around mental health, and offers easy-to-follow daily and weekly tasks to improve your mindset long-term.

If you like to write and be organised, there’s also a handy planner included as part of the book so you can track your progress.


Best for: learning how to cope with solitude

Another new release (due out on May 27), more pertinent than ever following a year of COVID lockdowns. It’s safe to say that over the last 14 months or so, we have all experienced loneliness to some degree.

As a result, most of us could benefit from reading this book, which sets out to equip people with the skills they need to deal with isolation, and also to grow to appreciate time spent alone.

The author also talks about how to effectively maintain existing relationships and build new ones while these uncertain times continue.


Best for: combatting anxious thoughts

Many of us could benefit from reading this book: who among us doesn’t worry too much? When does worrying tip into over-thinking?

The author of this book addresses these difficult questions in a clear and simple way, easy to understand and apply to our daily actions.

Crammed with examples and anecdotes to help you in all areas of your life, from your personal relationships to your professional life, it’s practical and easy to identify with.

Logged In and Stressed Out : How Social Media is Affecting Your Mental Health and What You Can Do About It , Paula Durlofksy

Best for: dealing with too much time online

We’ve all spent more time than ever before glued to our phones during these last few months, and that increased use of social media has brought added anxieties for many of us.

This book seeks to help us develop a healthier relationship with phones and social media.

First it examines how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube can trigger negative feelings such as stress and jealousy, and then provides advice on how we can change our approach to using the various channels to better build and develop human interaction and positive emotions.

GROW: Motherhood, Mental Health and Me, Frankie Bridge

Best for: new mums struggling with their mental health

Written specifically for mothers by popstar, mum and Sunday Times bestselling author Frankie Bridge, this book discusses the mental health problems new mums can face - although these are rarely discussed.

Frankie writes a very honest account of the anxieties she faced first while pregnant, and then raising her baby, to help readers to feel they are not alone.

This relatable account is coupled with expert advice and insight from a psychiatrist and a psychologist, who explore the problems that not only new mums can face, but all new parents. Pre-order now for delivery in August.

DAD: Untold stories of Fatherhood, Love, Mental Health and Masculinity, Elliot Rae

Best for: Dad seeking solace

A compilation of stories from the (MFF) team. MFF is the UK’s most exciting parenting and lifestyle platform for men.

This book aims to give a positive representation of dads and also aims to champion equal parenting, as well as helping dads to address the issues they can face when raising children. Pre-order now for delivery in June.

Anything is Possible: Be Brave, Be Kind & Follow Your Dreams, Gareth Southgate

Best for: young football fans

We fell in love with England football manager Gareth Southgate in 2018, when he provided dignified, strong, compassionate leadership to the English team during the World Cup.

His inspirational prose detail how to overcome setbacks (something he knows a great amount about) and how kindness is integral to succeeding in life.

While not specifically a mental health book, it’s ideal for any football-loving teen who needs insightful, realistic advice. To quote Southgate himself, “If I can go from a skinny, introverted teenager who was once told he wouldn’t make it as a footballer to someone who played for and managed his country, then I’m a clear example that anything is possible.”

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