Mental Illness Reading List

Books to Add to Your Reading List During Mental Illness Awareness Week

As Chapman University continues observing Mental Illness Awareness Week, Clinical Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy Naveen Jonathan, Ph.D., LMFT offers a few book recommendations to help broaden our understanding on mental illness, start the conversation and keep it going. Whether you want to learn more about the nuances of mental illness or find some inspiration, consider these texts as a starting point: 

1. “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk

In this New York Times Bestseller Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on traumatic stress, draws on scientific advances and his own research to show how trauma physically reshapes the body and brain. With an emphasis on holistic healing, this book offers hope through an alternative approach that heals mind, body and brain.

2. “The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are” by Daniel Siegel

Another bestselling and seminal text, “The Developing Mind” gives a thorough look into how the brain develops as a response to interpersonal relationships. Siegal covers a myriad of topics including memory, parent-child attachment, neurobiology and mindfulness. For those interested in a more technical and in-depth discussion on the brain’s response to trauma, this is a good option.

3. “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by Brene Brown

If you love motivational books on wellness, consider this classic by Brene Brown. Drawing on her research on shame and imperfection, Brown explores how we can let go of perfectionism, anxiety and self-doubt by cultivating an appreciation for all that makes us imperfect.

Keep the Conversation Going with these Bonus Books

4. “Everybody Worries” by Jon Burgerman

If you have young children at home feeling worried about the coronavirus, Brugerman’s “Everybody Worries” is a great resource for you. Engaging and colorful, Brugerman’s e-picture book encourages children to share their feelings and reassures them that worrying is just another part of being human.

5. “Everything Here is Beautiful” by Mira T. Lee

In this empathetic and heartfelt novel, Leel explores the experiences of immigration and mental illness through the story of two Chinese-American sisters – one grappling with mental illness and the other leaving everything behind to reach her sister. 

For anyone who feels they are struggling and need to reach out, the university assembled comprehensive resource lists at its new Health and Wellness website. Anyone who feels they or someone they know needs urgent help can find phone numbers for immediate help, too.