*Light-Hearted* + Relatable Mental Health Books [with a 2021 update!]

**Below the original post are updated books for our 2021 mental health month guide! 

One thing I’ve learned through being open about my mental health journey is that it really helps feeling like you can relate to others. When you connect with a story, it can help you to feel heard + even give you the strength to share your own story or seek guidance.

When I read It’s Kind of a Funny Story, I felt this connection, as the author was describing situations I go through or thoughts I have but was never able to put into words myself — one of the characters even took the same medication I was on. Reading about mental health in a *light-hearted* way helped me to come to terms that it’s okay to feel this way ++ most importantly — other people feel the same way I do.

While you can find guidance + connection in self-help style books, but sometimes, these books can be too close to home + do more harm than good. The books below talk about sensitive, but important topics including anxiety, depression, suicide, addiction, + even spirituality, but in a way that’s easier to understand + relate to. You aren’t given advice or extreme details about mental illnesses, but instead, you can get a first-hand look at what it’s like to live with one:

#1] Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

#2] Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

#3] What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan

#4] Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

#5] How God Changes Your Brain by Andrew B. Newberg, Mark Robert Waldman

#6] Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

#7] Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

#8] Marbles by Ellen Forney

In honor of Mental Health Month 2021, we wanted to update our favorite book recommendations! With everything that happened this past year, having different outlets to learn more about others’ experiences is SO important. If you have read any of our book recommendations + want to share or connect with us, tag @CHAARG + use the #CHAARGBookClub!

#1] Hold Still by Nina LaCour. This book gives you a first-hand look at how mental illness can be so prevalent in a friend’s life, even when you’re unaware of the situation. The main character Ingrid commits suicide + her friend Caitlin decides to go through the journal to find out what happened. Caitlin shares her story about how you can’t always see what the people closest to you are feeling.

 #2] Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee. This book provides an honest insight into how mental illness can affect so much more than the individual, but all members of their family + friends. It shares the story of one sister who starts hearing voices + her family + friends who struggle to support her. 

#3] All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. This book is not only a romance novel but also an inside look at how a relationship can change so much for someone struggling with mental illness. A crazy crazy coincidence brings together the two main characters → they almost throw themselves out of a window at exactly the same time. The story follows Violet + Finch throughout their relationship + how connection can be live savings to some with mental illnesses but how it can mask other’s situation. 

#4] The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. Who doesn’t love a Brené Brown read? She shared what she’s learned in her research into the power of “Wholehearted Living”. Her story works to explore how we can cultivate courage, compassion + connection with ourselves in our everyday lives.

#5] First, We Make the Beast Beautiful:by Sarah Wilson. Wilson details her journey with her mental illnesses, including experiences that describe insomnia, bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, mania + bipolar disorder. The book delves into the scientific research, facts + figures behind anxiety disorders as well as Sarah’s individual experience + coping strategies. She recommends consciously exploring anxiety + accepting it to discover what it can teach you about the beauty of life.

#6] (Don’t) Call Me Crazy by Kelly Jensen. This book shares the stories of 33 people who have dealt with mental illness in some form. The stories work to destigmatize mental health by exploring the problematic word crazy, a misnomer often used to describe people who struggle with mental illness. The author shares commentary on why we don’t talk about mental health + illness enough ++why that needs to change.


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