25 best mental health books to read in 2024

Ali Roff Farrar shares the best mental health books for those looking to understand – and care for – their mental health.

Looking for the best mental health books? Here, we round up our top books about mental health, anxiety, depression and stress, from fascinating research to relatable page-turners and beautiful memoirs.

For those who want to understand how their minds work


by Mo Gawdat

Book cover for Unstressable

Unstressable applies Mo Gawdat's brilliant engineering mind and Alice Law's psychology and stress-management expertise to the 'stress pandemic'. This follow up to bestselling Solve For Happy will show you that chronic stress is not an unavoidable part of modern life, but a predictable – and therefore preventable – response, often as much to do with negative thought patterns as external circumstances. Practical exercises will help you build up the skills to manage stress, backed up by neuroscience and accessible psychology.

Dead Weight

by Emmeline Clein

Book cover for Dead Weight

Emmeline Clein takes her own experiences, alongside those of other women, to follow the medical and cultural history of eating disorders. In writing that’s electric, fierce and endlessly curious, Clein investigates the economic conditions underpinning our eating disorder epidemic, grapples with the myriad ways disordered eating has affected her own friendships and romantic relationships, and illuminates how today's feminism has been complicit in disordered eating culture. Through it all, she challenges the accepted narratives women absorb every day about themselves, revealing the dangerous messages that connect female worth to inhabiting an ever-smaller form.

Ten Times Calmer

by Dr Kirren Schnack

Book cover for Ten Times Calmer

Dr Kirren Schnack is here to tell you that your anxiety isn’t here to stay. As an Oxford-trained and practicing NHS clinical psychologist with twenty years experience, she offers a first aid kit of tools to help you understand what you’re going through and change how you’re feeling — and it might just be easier than you think. The ten chapters cover everything from dealing with anxious thoughts and stress to managing uncertainty and safely tackling trauma, with each tip taking you one step closer to an anxiety-free life. 

That Little Voice In Your Head

by Mo Gawdat

Book cover for That Little Voice In Your Head

Mo Gawdat's That Little Voice in Your Head is a practical guide to rewiring your brain for joy. He reveals that by talking down the negative voice within, we can change the way we think, turn greed into kindness, transform apathy into compassionate action and create our own happiness. Gawdat's brain exercises draw on his experience as a former Google engineer and Chief Business Officer, as well as from his neuroscience studies. And he explains how – despite their complexity – our brains generally behave in predictable ways. Drawing inspiration from the life of his late son, Gawdat has written a manual for happiness that is steeped in empathy.

On Agoraphobia

by Graham Caveney

Book cover for On Agoraphobia

In his early twenties, Graham Caveney began to experience strange symptoms and was eventually diagnosed with agoraphobia. For the following decades he had to manage his condition and live with various restrictions: no motorways, no dual carriageways, no shopping centres and limited time outdoors. In his efforts to understand his illness, Graham came back to his first love: reading. And he discovered that literature has plenty of examples of agoraphobics, from Harper Lee’s Boo Radley to Ford Madox Ford, Emily Dickinson and Shirley Jackson. This is a fascinating if sometimes painful look at a disorder that escapes easy definition.

Books for those looking to understand their childhood

What Happened to You?

by Oprah Winfrey, Dr Bruce Perry

Book cover for What Happened to You?

Through wide-ranging, and often deeply personal conversation, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Perry explore how what happens to us in early childhood – both good and bad - influences the people we become. In conversation throughout the book, the two focus on understanding people, behaviour, and ourselves in the context of personal experiences. They remove blame and self-shaming, and open up a space for healing and understanding. Grounded in the latest brain science and brought to life through compelling narratives, this book shines a light on a much-needed path to recovery – showing us our incredible capacity to transform after adversity.

Toxic Childhood Stress

by Dr Nadine Burke Harris

Book cover for Toxic Childhood Stress

To go forward, we must go back. As many as two thirds of us experienced some kind of childhood adversity, and Dr Nadine Burke Harris aims to help uncover, identify and heal childhood trauma in her book Toxic Childhood Stress: The Legacy of Early Trauma and How to Heal. And it’s important work; childhood trauma not only affects mental health, but physiological health too. As the Surgeon General of California and the founder and CEO of Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, Dr Burke Harris pulls together stories and findings from her ground-breaking research linking childhood trauma to health in this fascinating and astonishing read.

Books for those looking to find solace in creativity

The Green Sketching Handbook

by Ali Foxon

Book cover for The Green Sketching Handbook

We all know that both creativity and time spent in the outdoors are beneficial for our mental health and general wellbeing. Many of us struggle to take time out and get away from our screens, but there is an answer! With its appealing combination of quick exercises with research on nature and creative activities, The Green Sketching Handbook will have you reaching for your pencil. Climate scientist and nature lover Dr Ali Foxon guides you to abandon fears of inadequacy, and create vivid depictions of your outdoor adventures.

Start Painting Now

by Emily Powell

Book cover for Start Painting Now

Start Painting Now is a practical, accessible guide to discovering your creative spirit, giving you brilliant new tools for relaxation and self-care. Instagram's favourite artist Emily Powell and her sister, doctor Sarah Moore, will guide you through the process of learning to ignore your inner critic and unwind from the stresses of daily life through painting. Supported by the latest research on the benefits of art for mental health and wellbeing, Start Painting Now will empower you to put aside the fear of failure, turn off your phone and throw yourself into the joy of creativity.

Books for those navigating grief


by Jessie Stephens

Book cover for Heartsick

'Heartbreak does not seem to be a brand of grief we respect. And so we are left in the middle of the ocean, floating in a dinghy with no anchor, while the world waits for us to be okay again.'

Based on three true stories, Heartsick by Jessie Stephens is a compelling narrative non-fiction account of the many lows and occasional surprising highs of heartbreak. Bruising, beautiful, achingly specific but wholeheartedly universal, it reminds us that emotional pain can make us as it breaks us, and that storytelling has the ultimate healing power.

How to Feel Better

by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Book cover for How to Feel Better

While we can't control all the ups and downs of life, we can choose how we respond to them. But rather than instructing us on how to live, Cathy Rentzenbrink approaches this book with warm, gentle guidance and offers comfort for those times we need it most. She covers topics such as her etiquette for bad news and the words of wisdom she would like to pass onto her son in a characteristically compassionate tone. How to Feel Better is essential reading for anyone looking to make sense of a big upheaval, or those simply navigating the daily ebbs and flows of life. 

Books for those drowning in their emotions

How to Stay Sane

by Philippa Perry

Book cover for How to Stay Sane

There is no simple set of instructions that can guarantee sanity, but if you want to overcome emotional difficulties and become happier, psychotherapist Philippa Perry, argues that there are four cornerstones to sanity you can influence to bring about change. By developing your self-observation skills, examining how you relate to others, breaking out of your comfort zone and exploring new ways of defining yourself, Philippa demonstrates that it is possible to become a little less tortured and a little more fulfilled.

How Emotions Are Made

by Lisa Feldman Barrett

Book cover for How Emotions Are Made

What if our emotions weren’t pre-programmed in our brains and bodies? That’s what Lisa Feldman Barrett asks in her book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain. She instead argues that most of what we believe about emotions is wrong. Understanding where your own emotional responses stem from and how they appear in your own body is an intriguing concept. ‘It doesn’t mean that emotions are an illusion, or that bodily responses are random,’ says Lisa. ‘It means that on different occasions...the same emotion category involves different bodily responses. Variation, not uniformity, is the norm.’

Solve For Happy

by Mo Gawdat

Book cover for Solve For Happy

Mo Gawdat tackles the problem of how to be happy using his engineering training, coming up with an equation for lasting happiness. When his son died, it became Mo’s mission to spread his happiness principles, and he has bottled those in this book. An answer to one of life’s great challenges, his message and methods will offer solace and a new way of looking at the world.

Mental health books for those who might be feeling alone


by Jenny Lawson

Book cover for Broken

As Jenny Lawson’s hundreds of thousands of fans know, she suffers from depression. In Broken, Jenny humanizes what we all face in an all-too-real way, reassuring us that we’re not alone and making us laugh while doing it. We see how her vacuum cleaner almost set her house on fire, how she was attacked by three bears, and why she can never go back to the post office. Of course, Jenny’s long-suffering husband Victor, the Ricky to Jenny’s Lucille Ball, is present throughout. A treat for Jenny Lawson’s already existing fans, and destined to convert new ones, Broken is a beacon of hope and a wellspring of laughter when we all need it most.

The Colour of Madness

by Samara Linton

Book cover for The Colour of Madness

The Colour of Madness brings together memoirs, essays, poetry, short fiction and artworks by people of colour who have experienced difficulties with mental health. From experiencing micro-aggressions to bias, and stigma to religious and cultural issues, people of colour have to fight harder than others to be heard and helped. Statistics show that people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK experience poor mental health treatment in comparison to their white counterparts, and are more likely to be held under the Mental Health Act. 

The Stranger on the Bridge

by Jonny Benjamin

Book cover for The Stranger on the Bridge

What does it feel like to lose all hope, and find it again? That’s what Johnny Benjamin shares in his brave memoir The Stranger on the Bridge: My Journey from Suicidal Despair to Hope, which tells the story of how he found himself standing atop Waterloo Bridge, ready to jump when a stranger saw him and intervened. Years later, Johnny took on the monumental task of trying to find the stranger who saved his life. Johnny’s story is one of hope – lost and then found. Including his struggles accepting and sharing his sexuality and his mental health struggles within his Jewish family and community, he shares a unique yet relatable story of mental health.

Maybe I Don't Belong Here

by David Harewood

Book cover for Maybe I Don't Belong Here

When David Harewood was twenty-three, his acting career began to take flight and he had what he now understands to be a psychotic breakdown. He was physically restrained by six police officers, sedated, then hospitalized and transferred to a locked ward. Only now, thirty years later, has he been able to process what he went through. In this powerful and provocative account of a life lived after psychosis, critically acclaimed actor, David Harewood, uncovers a devastating family history and investigates the very real impact of racism on Black mental health.

The Book of Hope

by Jonny Benjamin

Book cover for The Book of Hope

Award-winning mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin, MBE, and co-editor Britt Pflüger bring together people from all walks of life – actors, musicians, athletes, psychologists and activists – to share what gives them hope. This joyful collection is a supportive hand to anyone looking to find light on a dark day and shows that, no matter what you may be going through, you are not alone. In this book, Johnny Benjamin brings together a range of voices to speak to the spectrum of our experiences of mental health and the power of speaking up and seeking help.

In Love with the World

by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Book cover for In Love with the World

The moving story of meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s journey into the wilderness and a near-death experience during his four-year wandering retreat is as inspirational as it is spiritual. Through Rinpoche’s intimate account of his search for the self during his suffering, he demonstrates how we can transform a fear of death into a life filled with joy.

Things No One Taught Us About Love

by Vex King

Book cover for Things No One Taught Us About Love

The hope and expectation that romantic love can and will be the solution to all our problems can put real strain on our relationships. Learn how to strengthen them, and uncover the true nature of love – a force within us, rather than an external power – with Vex King. By deconstructing the myths and misconceptions surrounding love and relationships, this book will help you to understand yourself, create and maintain healthy habits, set boundaries and heal.

Books for those who have just discovered that they have ‘mental health’

A Beginner's Guide to Being Mental

by Natasha Devon

Book cover for A Beginner's Guide to Being Mental

‘We all exist somewhere within a spectrum of mental health.’ Natasha’s contribution to this list is a hilarious read which takes us on a journey through the alphabet of mental health, all the way from Anxiety, to ZERO FUCKS GIVEN (or the art of having high self-esteem), with a few pitstops at Drugs, Internet, Therapy and other useful themes connecting to mental health along the way. Sourcing expert advice along with her own laugh-out-loud personal experiences, this is observational comedy meets mental health advice, resulting in a sense that however you are feeling, whatever you’re going through, you’re not the only one.

The Kindness Method

by Shahroo Izadi

Book cover for The Kindness Method

In these difficult times, we could all benefit from showing ourselves a little kindness. If you want to use this time to make a change, Behavioural Change Specialist Shahroo Izadi believes there’s only one way to make change last, and that’s to be kind to yourself. The Kindness Method was developed through a combination of professional training and personal experience and will leave you feeling empowered, positive and ready to make a change, whether it’s weight loss, cutting down on alcohol or improving your relationships.

Anxiety for Beginners

by Eleanor Morgan

Book cover for Anxiety for Beginners

‘Anxiety itself is not a mental illness’, explains Eleanor Morgan in her sharp book Anxiety for Beginners: A Personal Investigation. ‘As part of our hardwiring as human beings, and what it means to be conscious, anxiety is a law of human nature. Natural selection gave us minds and, with them, we were released from the shackles of biological determinism. But the power of the mind is a whole new set of chains because there’s always something to be anxious about. We worry because that’s what we’ve evolved to do.’ This is a compilation of the writer's own experiences, curiously delved into and unpicked with relatable thoughtfulness.

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Books for chronic people pleasers

Codependent No More

by Melody Beattie

Book cover for Codependent No More

Have you lost sight of yourself while addressing the needs of others? Fully revised and updated, with a new chapter on trauma and anxiety, this modern classic – that has already sold over 7 million copies across the globe – will help you heal and grow. With personal reflections, exercises, and instructive stories drawn from Beattie's own life and the lives of those she's counselled, Codependent No More will help you break old patterns and maintain healthy boundaries, and offers a clear and achievable path to healing, hope, freedom and happiness.


by Glennon Doyle

Book cover for Untamed

As a New York Times bestseller which has sold over one million copies and featured on lists including  Oprah’s O Magazine and Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, Untamed by activist Glennon Doyle had to get a mention in our list of top books about mental health. Centred around the theme of learning to listen inwardly in order to find yourself, Glennon explores the peace and happiness to be found in shedding the pressures of the external expectations around us. Sharing her own personal story of how, when and why she decided to stop pleasing others,  this is a powerful memoir, and a wakeup call to start living for ourselves.