Three Great Self-Help Books for Mental Health (that you’ve probably never heard of)

Rock Steady by Ellen Forney

Whats it about?
Ellen Forney is a graphic artist with Bipolar Disorder. Her graphic memoir “Marbles” charts her unravelling into mania then her journey towards diagnosis and treatment, while this one is all about how to cope when your mental health isn’t great.

Why do I love it?
Firstly it is a graphic novel aka comic so it is super easy to read and follow. It is also packed with great advice and explanations of the different kinds of therapies, how to pick the best therapy for you and how to cope in a mental health crisis. Although it is aimed at people with bipolar disorder, the advice within it is helpful to most people, and as a counsellor I teach many of the coping strategies outlined in this book.

F*ck Feelings by Michael I. Bennett MD & Sarah Bennett

What’s it about?
The subtitle of the book is “One shrink’s practical advice to managing all life’s impossible problems” and that’s exactly what it is – covering everything from annoying family members, to wanting to make everyone feel better, to heartbreak and everything inbetween. And despite the title, they actually care about feelings a lot but recognise you can’t always get what you want – so will give you realistic alternatives to stop you being miserable.

Why do I love it?
I adore the structure of this book which is basically –
1. Here’s what you wish for but can’t have
2. Here’s what you can aim for and actually achieve
3. Here’s how you do it.
It is super practical, realistic and actually quite funny.

I also find that people can be miserable because they want people to change or for things to be different in ways that they can’t, and this book aims straight for that.
Caution though – as the title would suggest – it is full of swears.

“A Straight Talking Introduction to the Power Threat Meaning Framework – An Alternative to Psychiatric Diagnosis” by Mary Boyle & Lucy Johnson

What’s it about?
While not a self-help book in the traditional sense, I think this could be very helpful to a lot of people who are struggling to understand why they feel the way that they do. As it states on the title, this is the alternative to the medical model of mental illness – so instead of seeing mental ill health as a series of diagnostic symptoms (what is wrong with you?) it instead sees the way you feel/behave as a series of coping strategies because of something that happened or is happening to you. The idea is that the general patterns of ‘mental illness’ represent is what people do in the face of threat and talks about surviving or coping with certain life dilemmas, not about having certain conditions.

Why do I love it?
Although the title is an absolute gobfull and hardly the most appealing – the book is actually really easy to read and understand and has questions at the end of each chapter for the reader to reflect upon their life experiences and how they coped. This is not only about trauma in the traditional sense but also about our lives generally, taking into account our experiences of discrimination, poverty and other aspects of power that we may or may not have. As a counsellor who reads a lot of mental health content, it is also my most bookmarked and underlined book.

Have you read any of these – what did you think? What other books would you add to the list?

Published by


Counsellor and Training Specialist supporting Globally Mobile Populations and International Schools.

Leave a Reply