Reads for Mental Health Awareness Month

mental health awareness

For 75 years now, May has been designated by Mental Health America (MHA) as Mental Health Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “Where to Start,” and MHA’s goals are to help Americans “LEARN how modern life affects mental health with new resources to navigate our changing world; ACT by building your coping toolbox so you can manage stress, difficult emotions, and challenging situations; and ADVOCATE to improve mental health for yourself, your friends and family, and your community.” With that in mind, here are just a few new & noteworthy books on mental health that you can check out using your Livingston Library card. (Descriptions provided by the publishers.) Practical Optimism : The Art, Science, and Practice of Exceptional Well-Being by Sue Varma, MD As the first medical director and attending psychiatrist at the World Trade Center Mental Health Program, Dr. Sue Varma worked directly with civilian and first-responder survivors in the aftermath of 9/11. There, she met people at every point of the stress and trauma continuum. She saw devastation and stagnancy as much as she saw amazing resilience and growth. She asked herself: how do some people survive, even thrive, despite profound challenges? And how can we optimize the things we have control over, while buffering ourselves from stress? Through her work with patients and combining philosophy, her own personal experience, and a review of the latest research in psychology, psychiatry, medicine, and neuroscience, Dr. Varma discovered that the answer lies in cultivating an optimistic mindset that stays tethered to the real world and helps us make sound and reasonable decisions. This epiphany inspired Practical Optimism, Dr. Varma’s powerful program with eight pillars to help all of us experience a sense of meaning, mastery, and self-acceptance and create lives filled with joy and purpose. 50 Ways to More Calm, Less Stress by Megy Karydes Many of us are at a breaking point. We struggle with burnout, stress, and feeling overwhelmed on a daily basis. While most self-care research takes us to practices like meditation, massage, or manifestation, very few focus on using our senses to ground us in calmness. Self-care isn’t just facial masks and spa days: 50 Ways to More Calm, Less Stress presents opportunities to activate our five senses to reduce stress. Each activity is supported by scientific research, is relatively easy to do, and is low to no cost. Examples include: TOUCH: Addressing burnout and digital fatigue through a creative outlet like cross-stitching, embroidery, or knitting SEE: Forest therapy using the five senses to connect with nature TASTE: Mindful eating to teach you to be less reactive to stress SMELL: Aromatherapy requires just a few sniffs of a scent to help ease your mind or help you focus HEAR: Calm your body by tuning in to music or white noise. But What Will People Say? : Navigating Mental Health, Identity, Love, and Family Between Cultures by Sahaj Kaur Kohli A deeply personal, paradigm-shifting book from therapist, writer, and founder of @browngirltherapy that rethinks traditional therapy and self-care models, creating much-needed space for those left out of the narrative. The College Student’s Guide to Mental Health by Mia Nosanow This comprehensive guidebook covers every factor that can influence the mental health of college students, providing clear guidance for maintaining a healthy and successful lifestyle as students navigate their new life away from home. Sociopath: A Memoir by Patric Gagne, PhD Patric Gagne realized she made others uncomfortable before she started kindergarten. Something about her caused people to react in a way she didn’t understand. She suspected it was because she didn’t feel things the way other kids did. Emotions like fear, guilt, and empathy eluded her. For the most part, she felt nothing. And she didn’t like the way that “nothing” felt. She did her best to pretend she was like everyone else, but the constant pressure to conform to a society she knew rejected anyone like her was unbearable. So Patric stole. She lied. She was occasionally violent. She became an expert lock-picker and home-invader. All with the goal of replacing the nothingness with…something. In college, Patric finally confirmed what she’d long suspected. She was a sociopath. But even though it was the very first personality disorder identified—well over 200 years ago—sociopathy had been neglected by mental health professionals for decades. She was told there was no treatment, no hope for a normal life. She found herself haunted by sociopaths in pop culture, madmen and evil villains who are considered monsters. Her future looked grim. But when Patric reconnects with an old flame, she gets a glimpse of a future beyond her diagnosis. If she’s capable of love, it must mean that she isn’t a monster. With the help of her sweetheart (and some curious characters she meets along the way) she embarks on a mission to prove that the millions of Americans who share her diagnosis aren’t all monsters either. This is the inspiring story of her journey to change her fate and how she managed to build a life full of love and hope. A Body Made of Glass : A History of Hypochondria by Caroline Crampton Part cultural history, part literary criticism, and part memoir, A Body Made of Glass is a definitive biography of hypochondria. Caroline Crampton’s life was upended at the age of seventeen, when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a relatively rare blood cancer. After years of invasive treatment, she was finally given the all clear. But being cured of the cancer didn’t mean she now felt well. Instead, the fear lingered, and she found herself always on the alert, braced for signs that the illness had reemerged. Now, in A Body Made of Glass, Crampton has drawn from her own experiences with health anxiety to write a revelatory exploration of hypochondria-a condition that, though often suffered silently, is widespread and rising. She deftly weaves together history, memoir, and literary criticism to make sense of this invisible and undercovered sickness. From the earliest medical case of Hippocrates to the literary