15 Audiobooks About Mental Health
Whether it’s through characters in fiction, or real experience described in nonfiction, audiobooks about mental health can help everyone understand the affect they can have on daily life.
Research has shown that two thirds of people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes. The list below features our favourite 15 audiobooks on this topic, from the serious to the humorous:
Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
At age 24, Matt Haig had a mental health crisis. He stood on a cliff edge and wondered whether to jump off. He decided to stay living, and once he had walked back inside his house, he threw up from the stress. His memoir is about the three years of depression and anxiety that followed. He tells stories of how he struggled to even walk to the corner shop without severe panic. The book charts his journey back from the edge with a frank honesty and compassion for anyone experiencing something similar. This may be short, but it is one of the most impactful audiobooks about mental health in recent years.
Listening Books members can download or stream Reasons to Stay Alive or request it on MP3 CD number 13585.
All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
Violet Markey and Theodore Finch meet at the top of the school bell tower, both intending to jump. Violet is struggling with feeling guilty after surviving the car accident that killed her sister and grieving for her. She finds solace in Finch, who gives her a reason to keep going. Finch, however, does not want the same from her. He tells her he isn’t ‘something to be rescued’ but a person distinct from his undiagnosed mental illness. Poignant and heartbreaking, All the Bright Places is a book with mental illness at its centre that is difficult to forget.
Members can download or stream All the Bright Places from Listening Books.
Cheer Up, Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate – Susan Calman
Susan Calman’s describes her depression as the ‘Crab of Hate’. She says this is because it ‘climbs up my back, pinches both of my earlobes and whispers gently to me.’ These whispered things are similar to thoughts many people with depression have experienced: ‘Why do you even bother? Everyone laughs at you when you leave the room. You’re useless. And you smell.’ This memoir is both touching and hilarious. It deals with some of the harder aspects of daily living with a mental illness, but intersperses these with lots of fun stories about Susan’s four cats – Oscar, Pickle, Daisy Fay Harper, and DCI Jane Tennison.
Members can download or stream Cheer Up, Love from Listening Books or request it on MP3 CD number 14352.
Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure – Robert de Board
This is the story of Toad of Toad Hall from The Wind in the Willows who is depressed and seeks counselling. He goes to see Heron, who gives him transactional analysis and explains what this is. Toad slowly learns how to analyse his own feelings and become more emotionally intelligent throughout the book. Robert de Board takes the beloved character from The Wind in the Willows and makes this book engaging, accessible and interesting for anyone who is looking into counselling or for instructive audiobooks about mental health.
Members can download or stream Counselling for Toads from the Listening Books library.
Thinking Out Loud – Rio Ferdinand
In 2015, Rio Ferdinand suddenly lost his wife to cancer. In Thinking Out Loud he shares his experience with grief to help others. He shares the difficult journey he has taken with his three children, the struggle he felt in coping with the grief and his new role as both mum and dad, and the advise that helped them all. Rio’s BBC1 documentary, Being Mum and Dad, touched many people and won huge praise for the honesty and bravery he showed in talking about his emotions and experiences, and this audiobook is no different.
Listening Books members can download or stream Thinking Out Loud or request it on MP3 CD number 14555.
Challenger Deep – Neil Shusterman
Neil Shusterman’s ambitious novel is set out as two dual narratives, one following Caden as he is hospitalised, and the other from Caden’s perspective as his schizoaffective disorder causes him to have delusions and difficulty regulating his emotions, as well as frightening episodes of paranoia. Slowly, the narratives start to bleed together. This is one of the audiobooks about mental health that aims to demonstrate the experience of living with a scattered mind, which is based on Shusterman’s personal experiences.
Members can download or stream Challenger Deep from Listening Books.
Self-Care for the Real World – Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips
‘At the most basic level, self-care means the ability to get yourself fed, dressed and washed, and to generally function in the world.’ So starts Self-Care For The Real World. Sometimes, when life is overwhelming, self-care can seem like an Instagram hashtag rather than something useful. But Nadia and Katia show how even basic things can help care for yourself in the way you deserve: with kindness, patience, and love.
Members can download or stream Self-Care for the Real World from the Listening Books library.
Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne
All Evie wants is to be normal. She struggles with OCD and anxiety, but she’s now off her medication and at a new school, where no one knows her. This book is both hysterically funny (think Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging) and also heart-breakingly sad at moments. The depictions of OCD rituals are very realistic and Holly Bourne treats Evie with compassion. If you’re looking for something about anxiety, this is the audiobook for you.
Listening Books members can download or stream Am I Normal Yet? from our library.
Calm – Fearne Cotton
In today’s always-on world, for many of us it seems impossible to relax, take time out or mute the encircling ‘noise’. It is easy to feel trapped in this frenzied state of mind: we are surrounded by negative stories in the press, weighed down by pressures from work, family life or school and subject to constant scrutiny under the all-seeing eye of social media. In Calm, Fearne Cotton has everything, from expert advice to ideas to activities, to help remind us all that we can find a calm place in ourselves.
Listening Books members can download and stream Calm or request it on MP3 CD number 14533.
The Darker the Night, The Brighter the Stars: A Neuropsychologist’s Odyssey – Paul Broks
After Paul Brok’s wife died of cancer, he tried to smother his grief. He wanted desperately to move on as fast as possible, but instead he began a journey of reflection and realisation. What does it mean to be human? How does the brain become the soul? Brok uses his own experiences, his cases as a neuropsychologist, and myths to study these questions. A great audiobook for anyone looking to think about what makes us human.
Members can download or stream The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars from our library.
The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer
The Shock of the Fall spans ten years and examines the effect of the death of a young boy on his brother, Matthew. The narrative is made up of Matthew’s writing therapy as he struggles to cope with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and being sectioned. Nathan Filer trained as a psychiatric nurse before writing this, his first book, and it is no surprise that the state of mental health services are explored, though they are done so with honesty and sensitivity. An unsettling, but beautiful book.
Members can download or stream The Shock of the Fall from Listening Books or request it on MP3 CD number 13877.
My Anxiety Handbook – Sue Knowles, Bridie Gallagher and Phoebe McEwan
Despite anxiety being a normal human emotion, it doesn’t feel like that a lot of the time. My Anxiety Handbook tries to demystify anxiety and show how it is possible to overcome even the biggest challenges. It’s full of loads of useful things like tried-and-tested exercises to help reduce feelings of anxiety, recovery stories from real people who are now managing their anxiety, and tips on sleep, stress, and reaching out for help. If you have anxiety and are looking for a bit of advice, try this audiobook!
My Anxiety Handbook is available as an audiobook exclusively from Listening Books, both to download and stream, or on MP3 CD 14926.
My Mad Dad – Robyn Hollingworth
This short audiobook is nonetheless devasting in many ways. After her dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, Robyn left her London life to return to her childhood home to care for him. Despite some of the most poignantly difficult passages to listen to, this audiobook also has some absolutely hilarious moments. Robyn narrates the audiobook herself, which gives it a personal touch. My Mad Dad deals with caring, grief, depression, and more. A wonderful audiobook.
Borrow the audiobook of My Mad Dad from the Listening Books library to download or stream or on MP3 CD number 14885.
Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
An anxiety disorder stops Audrey from being able to enjoy her life. She can’t leave the house, or even take her dark glasses off inside, because making eye contact with anyone triggers a serious panic attack. After she meets her brothers friend, Linus, and with her help of her doctor, she slowly starts to feel that she can make small steps towards getting her life back again. This is a charming and heartwarming audiobook about mental health that features anxiety front and centre.
Members can download or stream Finding Audrey from Listening Books, or borrow it on MP3 CD number 12729.
A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled – Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax’s A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled is a practical, accessible and funny guide to mindfulness. She describes her own experiences with mental illness to show how mindfulness can be useful, and makes many other references to a clearly extensive level of research. While it is quite easy to think of mindfulness as a practice that involves sitting cross-legged on a hill listening to a single wind chime, Ruby Wax shows how it is more about the ability to pay attention and learning not to be afraid of thoughts and feelings. A great listen.
Members can download or stream A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled from Listening Books.
What audiobooks about mental health would you recommend? Let us know in the comments!
You may also enjoy our posts: 11 Mental Health Day Tweets with Important Messages and How Audiobooks Changed My Life, a guest blog from a member describing how audiobooks helped her anxiety.
This post was written by Abigail Jaggers.