Three stacks of books against a pale green background, featuring What Have I Done?, Character Breakdown and A Blood Condition facing forwards.

Losing Our Minds: What Mental Illness Really Is – and What It Isn’t by Lucy Foulkes (2021)

Is the UK really experiencing a ‘mental health crisis’? In Losing Our Minds, psychologist Lucy Foulkes argues that we need to rethink the national conversation around mental illness. Drawing on an extensive knowledge of the scientific and clinical literature, Foulkes writes with nuance and compassion on mental health, arguing for the necessity of a distinction between normal levels of stress, anxiety and sadness, and the diagnosis of a disorder. This is an essential book for anyone seeking clarity on the truth of mental illness.

The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon (2016)

Described by the Evening Standard as ‘The best book ever on depression’, The Noonday Demon combines Andrew Solomon’s personal experiences with research from around the globe and throughout history. Scientific analysis, medical reportage, human stories and heartfelt memoir combine to create a nuanced picture of depression and the ways in which it touches the lives of so many people around the world.

Character Breakdown by Zawe Ashton (2020)

Fresh Meat star, playwright of for all those women who thought they were Mad and soon-to-be Marvel villain, Zawe Ashton is no stranger to the entertainment industry. In this witty blend of memoir and scripted conversations, she looks askance at showbiz to reveal its absurdity and horror. From squirm-inducing auditions to facing down racist comments on-set, Ashton writes with honesty and dark humour about the anxiety, panic and self-doubt that have followed her career. This candid look behind the scenes of a supposedly glamourous industry comes highly recommended from fans including Bernardine Evaristo and Candice Carty-Williams.  

Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen (2021)

Burnout is what happens when overwork and stress ram you up against a wall. It’s something that many people will have experienced, but former senior culture writer for BuzzFeed NewsAnne Helen Petersen, examines how it has had an impact on the millennial generation in particular. Writing from her own experience, original interviews and detailed analysis, she traces the institutional and generational causes of burnout, as well as how it manifests across communities. Can’t Even is an insightful look at modern culture, but also a galvanising call for change.

In Praise of Walking by Shane O’Mara (2020)

We all know that walking is good for us, and, for many, regular walks have helped to boost our mood throughout lockdown. But do we know why this is the case? Neuroscientist Shane O’Mara looks into the evidence for the often-cited benefits of walking – from mental and physical wellbeing to improved cognition, from connecting with nature to the evolutionary benefits of bipedalism. As the warmer months come around and we are able to get outside more, In Praise of Walking is a compelling explanation of how this can benefit us in both mind and body.

A Dutiful Boy by Mohsin Zaidi (2021)

In his powerful coming-of-age memoir, Mohsin Zaidi writes about his experiences of growing up gay in a strict Muslim household. Believing that it was impossible to be himself at home or school, and then feeling out of place in a different way when he became the first person from his school to gain admission to the University of Oxford, Zaidi’s mental health suffered blow after blow. A Dutiful Boy is the hopeful story of his journey from his lowest point to a life of belonging, love, family acceptance, and a career as one of the top criminal barristers in the UK.

F**k, I Think I’m Dying by Claire Eastham (2021)

In F**k, I Think I’m Dying, award-winning blogger Claire Eastham explores panic attacks, anatomising how panic works and how it can be managed. This is part memoir, part guide, informed by Eastham’s own experiences and a series of interviews with scientists, professors, dieticians, psychologists, and more. Uplifting, honest and funny, F**k, I Think I'm Dying will speak to anyone seeking to reclaim their life from the spectre of panic.  

Nature Cure by Richard Mabey (2015)

In 1999, ‘Britain’s greatest living nature writer’ Richard Mabey lost all interest in the natural world. The cause was clinical depression. After moving from the Chilterns to East Anglia, Mabey discovered an entirely new landscape to explore. For Mabey, the road to recovery was intimately linked with this rediscovery of nature – a dual experience that he recounts in Nature Cure. This memoir is a manifesto for life and living things, a perfect read for anyone who wants to learn more about depression or is simply a fan of excellent nature writing.  

Heavy Light: A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare (2021)

Heavy Light is a powerful blend of memoir and reportage, written from Horatio Clare’s own experiences of being committed to hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act. Clare takes us on his journey from a breakdown to institutionalisation, then to recovery and healing, asking urgent questions about how we treat mania and psychosis in the modern day.

What Have I Done? Motherhood, Mental Illness & Me by Laura Dockrill (2021)

Did you know that 1 in 500 new mothers are affected by postpartum psychosis, according to NHS statistics? In her powerful memoir, Laura Dockrill aims to break the silence around postnatal mental health by telling her own story. After the birth of her son, a slow recovery and sleep deprivation escalated into postpartum psychosis and a fortnight spent in a psychiatric ward. This is a raw, honest and life-affirming account that serves as an important conversation-starter.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (2015)

H is for Hawk is a memoir of grief, nature, T. H. White, and training a wild bird of prey. When Helen Macdonald lost her father, the only distraction from her grief was her life-long dream of owning a goshawk as the author T. H. White once did – and so she bought Mabel. Written in beautiful, sharp prose, this book is an utterly captivating meditation on mourning, with accolades including Costa Book of the Year and the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction.  

A Blood Condition by Kayo Chingonyi (2021)

As a beautiful examination of grief, A Blood Condition is a moving, musical poetry collection that responds to change and permanence, loss and joy, and the ongoing process of letting go. Kayo Chingonyi is a remarkable voice whose words will strike a chord with anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one.

The Shapeless Unease: My Year in Search of Sleep by Samantha Harvey (2021)

Sleep is something we tend to take for granted – that is, until we can’t get enough of it. Poor mental wellbeing can cause sleep deprivation, and sleep deprivation can cause poor mental wellbeing, in a vicious cycle of bone-weariness. For a year, Samantha Harvey suffered from insomnia with no obvious single cause. This is a memoir of her sleepless nights, told in striking, fragmentary prose. For anyone struggling with insomnia, this is a dazzling account that tells you that you are not alone.

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh (2020)

Allie Brosh’s distinctive cartoons have become emblematic of depression and anxiety on the internet, with countless fans relating to them worldwide. In Solutions and Other Problems, Brosh talks incisively about grief, loneliness, and powerlessness, as well as her hilarious childhood anecdotes and her reflections on the absurdity of modern life. Her characteristic observational comics are the perfect medicine for anyone in need of a good laugh.

If you need mental health help or advice, you can seek support on Mind’s website, or by phoning their information helpline on 0300 123 3393. For urgent support, call NHS 111.

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