Over the last two years, multiple research studies have proven that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health. Some groups, including health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected. And services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders have been significantly disrupted.
Literature on mental health, especially intersectional mental health therefore becomes all the more crucial. As we witness a third Covid-19 wave in India, we bring to you a diverse selection of books on mental health released last year. Although not an exhaustive list, we hope these books catering to diverse mental health themes provide some respite in these difficult times.
- ‘Aaron Slater, Illustrator (The Questioneers)’ by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
Printed with a dyslexia-friendly font, ‘Aaron Slater, Illustrator’ tells the empowering story of a boy with dyslexia who discovers that his learning disability may inform who he is, but it does not define who he is, and that there are many ways to be a gifted communicator. A book that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, it beautifully captures the spirit of empathy and empowerment.
2. ‘Big Panda and Tiny Dragon’ by James Norbury
Big Panda and Tiny Dragon is a beautifully illustrated and mindful journey of two friends through the seasons. Travelling through nature, they find hope and inspiration in the world around them, realising that even in the darkest of days, spring will always return. The story of these whimsical characters takes us to a warm place filled with hope and comfort.
3. ‘Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship’ by Catherine Raven
Fox and I is a story of survival and transformation, a captivating tale of a friendship between two species in a shared habitat, battling against the uncontainable forces of nature on one side and humanity on the other; it is immersive, original and utterly unforgettable.
4. ‘My Ex-Imaginary Friend’ by Jimmy Matejek-morris
Jack’s imaginary friend George is quite unique. He is part walrus, part human, and a fabulous magician. He is also disappearing. This multilayered story caters to many themes of abandonment and belief through its honest depiction of family conversations and friendship.
5. ‘No Such Thing as Normal’ by Bryony Gordon
An insightful read, ‘No Such Thing As Normal’ offers sensible, practical advice, covering subjects such as sleep, addiction, worry, medication, self-image, boundary setting, therapy, learned behaviour, and mindfulness. Leading mental health campaigner Bryony Gordon opens up about her challenges with mental illness and the lessons that she has learnt through her life experiences.
6. ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen: Exploring the Emotional Lives of Black Women’ by Adenrele Ojo and Inger Burnett-zeigler
Combining latest research with her personal story and those of family members and clients, through this book psychologist Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler reveals that a life of joy is possible, and discusses outlets for support, including mental health treatment, the church and spirituality. Her illuminating work gives the phrase, ‘I am a strong black woman’ a whole new meaning, while letting women know they are not alone in their suffering.
7. ‘The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times’ by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams
The second book in the ‘Global Icons Series’, The Book of Hope is a rare and intimate look not only at the nature of hope but also into the heart and mind of a woman who revolutionized how we view the world around us and has spent a lifetime fighting for our future. Written by Jane Goodall, the world’s most famous living naturalist, and Douglas Abrams, the internationally bestselling co-author of The Book of Joy, this book touches upon vital questions about life and expands our understanding of hope in a constantly changing world.
8. ‘The Comfort Book’ by Matt Haig
‘The Comfort Book’ is a collection of short, hopeful anecdotes and reflections on life to dip into when in need of consolation, and help in seeing hard situations in a softer light. Drawing on maxims, memoir and the inspirational lives of others, these meditations celebrate the ever-changing wonder of living. Each anecdote does what it’s supposed to do — comfort you.
9. ‘The River of Birds’ by Libby Moore and Michael Boardman
Gorgeously illustrated by wildlife artist and illustrator Michael Boardman, Libby Moores’ ‘The River of Birds’ is a gentle story that looks honestly at grief and love. The beautiful themes and lush illustrations will bring comfort to readers of all ages. The book includes a guide put together by clinical psychologist Mary Plouffe that provides practical resources for adults who are supporting grieving children.
10. ‘What happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing’ by Oprah Winfrey and Dr Bruce Perry
Through wide-ranging and often deeply personal conversation, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Perry challenge us to shift from focusing on ‘What’s wrong with you?’ or ‘Why are you behaving that way?’ to asking ‘What happened to you?’. The book professes that this simple change in perspective can open up a new and hopeful understanding for millions about why we do the things we do, why we are the way we are, providing a road map for repairing relationships, overcoming what seems insurmountable, and ultimately living better and more fulfilling lives.