In today’s world, nearly 1 in 5 adults struggle with mental illness. Even though mental illnesses are widespread, there remains a stigma around mental health, and it takes, on average, 10 years for someone with depression to seek out treatment.

Learning about and developing a better understanding of mental health can help you in a variety of ways, from developing a better mindset to learning that you are not alone when it comes to mental health struggles or illnesses. In this guide we'll go over the best mental health books, so you can find the information you need.

Best Mental Health Books

Below are the top 13 books on mental health and mental illness that will help you better understand potential treatment options, what certain mental illnesses are like, and how you can feel happier without having to go on medication. 

1. The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon 

The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon

The Noonday Demon is an atlas of depression created by award-winning author Andrew Solomon. In this, Solomon takes the reader on a journey of incomparable range with humanity, candor, and wit. This contribution of not only mental illness, but human understanding is one of the most remarkable books of our time. 

This book examines depression in cultural, personal, and scientific terms. Drawing on his own struggles with the illness and interviews of mental health professionals, Solomon reveals the subtle complexities and sheer agony of the disease.

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2. (Don’t) Call Me Crazy by Kelly Jensen

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy by Kelly Jensen

Named The Washington Post’s best children’s book of 2018, (Don’t) Call Me Crazy explains how we need to talk openly about the term crazy when it comes to discussions about mental illness. Since there is no single definition of crazy, there is no single experience that embodies the term. Crazy can mean passionate to one person and extreme to another.

In this, 33 actors, athletes, writers, and more illustrate their personal experiences with mental illness and explain the best ways to talk about mental health. This book will help you gain a deeper understanding about how each person’s brain is wired differently. 

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3. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

In Girl, Interrupted eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen explains how she was put in a taxi and sent to McLean hospital after her first session with a new psychiatrist in 1967. For the next two years, she spent most of her life in the ward with other teenage girls. This psychiatrist hospital was renowned for its famous clientele, from Sylvia Plath to James Taylor.

When this psych ward treated those who could afford it, their progressive methods turned heads everywhere. This memoir encompasses razor-edged perception and the horrors that went on in the ward. This clear-sighted document gives lasting dimension to our definition of mental illness and those who are recovering. 

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4. No One Cares About Crazy People by Ron Powers

No One Cares About Crazy People by Ron Powers

No One Cares About Crazy People is all about the chaos and heartbreak of mental health in America. This New York Times best-seller offers a richly researched narrative of the social history of mental illness in America. Author Ron Powers pairs this history with his deeply personal stories of his two sons’ battles with schizophrenia.

This thought-provoking book provides a new look at a widely misunderstood illness. Powers limns our fears and misconceptions about mental illness and explains how public policies have led to these problems. 

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5. Darkness Visible by William Styron 

Darkness Visible by William Styron

This New York Times best-selling memoir is an account of crippling depression and the struggle to recover. In the summer of 1985, William Styron became unable to speak or walk while caught up with the consequences of depression: disaffection, apathy, and despair. His wave of obsession with the disease nearly drove him to suicide.

Before the dark tide engulfed him, he sought help. This book tells the story of his remarkable recovery and his triumph over the disease that had claimed so many great writers before him. 

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6. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

In It’s Kind of a Funny Story, teenager Craig Gilner seeks entry into Manhattan’s Executive Professional High School. Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and he does. However, at his new school, Craig realizes that he isn’t nearly as genius as the other students around him.

Craig struggles to come to terms with the fact that he is nothing more than average, if that. Soon, he watches his once-perfect future crumble before his eyes. 

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7. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel

Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel

This New York Times best-selling memoir is all about being depressed in America. Quickly after it was published, this book became a cultural touchstone, explaining how the overdiagnosed generation created icons like Kurt Cobain. In this, Wurtzel does an outstanding job at giving the reader a look into the mind of someone with depression.

Articulate and brave, Wurtzel’s account of depression shows how those with mental illness often persist just to have nobody notice. Both entertaining and helpful, this book provides readers with one of the most accurate depictions of depression. 

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8. We’ve Been Too Patient by L. D. Green

We’ve Been Too Patient by L. D. Green

We’ve Been Too Patient consists of 25 unflinching stories and essays from the front lines of the radical mental health movement. From overmedication to involuntary hospitalization, those labeled as mentally ill go through a multitude of traumas that lead to incense altered states. 

While much has been written about the systemic problems of our mental health system, this book sheds light on those who experience psychiatric miscare. Often, these are the voices that are left unheard, such as the LGBTQ+ and POC communities. This book is dedicated to finding better alternatives to treat mental illness, beginning with a proposal to switch the conversation from mental illness to mental health. 

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9. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns 

Feeling Good- The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns

This #1 best-seller explains how black holes, such as anxiety, guilt, and procrastination can be cured without medication. In this, eminent psychiatrist David D. Burns outlines the scientifically proven techniques that will lift your spirits and help you develop a more positive outlook on life. This book will answer your questions about the treatments available for curing depression and anxiety. 

By reading this, you’ll learn about what causes your mood swings, how to deal with guilt, and how to overcome addiction. These clinically-proven, drug-free treatment options for curing depression and anxiety have helped many readers over the years.

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10. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig 

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

This accessible and life-affirming memoir explains how Matt Haig’s triumph over mental illness taught him to live. In this modern classic, Haig explains how he overcame depression by writing, reading, and the love of friends and family. Eventually, he learned to appreciate life more because of it.

Everyone’s lives are touched by mental illness. If we do not suffer from mental illness, we know somebody close to us that does. Haig’s frankness about his experiences is both relatable and inspiring to those struggling with depression. 

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11. The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn R. Saks 

The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn R. Saks

This much-praised memoir provides a stereotype-shattering look at a tenacious woman whose brain is both her best friend and enemy. Author Elyn Saks has suffered from schizophrenia most of her life and still has recurring episodes. In this moving story of her life, Saks explains how she learned to live on her own as an adult.

From attempted suicides to voices speaking to her as a young teenager, Saks discusses her ongoing paranoia and inability to tell imaginary voices from real ones. To become a highly respected professional, Saks had to overcome a multitude of obstacles imposed upon her by her mental illness.

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12. Lost Connections by Johann Hari

Lost Connections by Johann Hari

This New York Times best-seller offers a radical new way of thinking about depression and anxiety. While Johann Hari was in the midst of depression and therapy, he was told that his disease was caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. When he became an adult, he started to study if this was actually true.

Soon after, Hari realized that everything we have been told about anxiety and depression is wrong. Across the world, he found social scientists that were discovering that anxiety and depression were not caused by any chemical imbalance. Instead, they were largely caused by problems that lie in the way we live. 

Once Hari had uncovered nine real causes of mental illness, him and a group of social scientists identified seven helpful paths to treatment. 

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13. Life Inside My Mind by Maureen Johnson 

Life Inside My Mind by Maureen Johnson

In Life Inside My Mind, 31 authors share their personal struggles with mental illness. Everyone has those days where they fight with the voices in their head or struggle to get out of bed. But what if this happens to you everyday? Johnson & 31 other YA authors are here to let you know that you’re not alone. 

Even though millions struggle with mental illness, it remains a topic shrouded in shame. It’s much easier to have a broken bone or tangible illness that can be fixed than to battle with an invisible enemy. In this, these authors tackle everything from OCD to PTSD and much more. 

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Conclusions: Best Mental Health Books

Ultimately, a great way to learn more about mental illness and its potential causes is to read what the psychiatrists and social scientists have to say. Furthermore, reading about others’ experiences with mental illness can instill hope and let you know that it’s a common struggle. Not only do millions struggle with mental illness, but these diseases are much more complex than the stereotypical way they are portrayed in the media. Reading the books above will help you deepen your understanding of these illnesses. 

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