What Mental Illness Really Is… (and what it isn’t)

What Mental Illness Really Is… (and what it isn’t)


'A must-read... Fascinating' JO BRAND

We need to rethink the conversation around mental health - psychologist Lucy Foulkes explores how and why.

How do mental health problems arise?
How do we distinguish between the 'normal' challenges of modern life and actual illness?
Is society really experiencing a new mental health crisis?

In this urgently needed book, psychologist Lucy Foulkes investigates what we know about mental illness - and shines a light on what we don't. It offers a profound new approach to how we think, talk and help when it comes to mental health.

(Previously published in 2021 in hardback under the title Losing Our Minds.)

'Captivating...engaging and lucid' Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

'Clear-headed, compassionate and, ultimately, optimistic' Mark Haddon

'Thorough, wise...much needed' Mark Rice-Oxley


  • This wonderful book offers an amazingly readable and cutting-edge scientific account of mental illness
    Matthew Broome, Professor of Psychiatry and Youth Mental Health

About the author

Lucy Foulkes

Dr Lucy Foulkes is an academic psychologist. She is currently a Prudence Trust Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, where she leads research into adolescent mental health and social development. She is also an honorary lecturer in psychology at UCL. She is the author of What Mental Illness Really Is (and What It Isn't) and has written for the Guardian, New Scientist and other publications. Her work has been discussed on BBC 2’s Newsnight and reported in The Times, Economist, New York Times and Atlantic, and she has appeared on BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind and Start the Week.
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