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Making Mental Health Beautiful: Books & Videos
“Many people say our 90s and 2000s generation is spoiled and ‘not tough enough’, consumed by the idea of happiness. They make us out as hedonists, galloping across the globe in search of something that the older generations believe is right at home.”
We have a pretty good understanding of how to look after our bodies. We know that we need a balanced diet, adequate exercise and rest. It seems easy but it’s quite the opposite. Sometimes there’s hardly enough time for sleep, the idea of going for a run is tortuous, and we just really crave a Big Mac at the end of a long, hard day. However, we have far more scientific knowledge surrounding our bodily functions and responses than we do regarding our mind.
Mental health is inextricably linked to the body, with what we eat and how much we sleep affecting our mental state. However, there’s so much about the mind that we just don’t understand which fuels the stigma about mental health. A broken leg can be seen from a distance and someone will offer you their seat on the bus because of it, but a lot of mental illnesses are invisible.
What does this mean? It means it’s harder to get help. With this, it means that more people slip through the cracks and are unable to access the wide variety of resources and support there are for those who need it.
In the last 10 years or so, mental health has finally started to be taken more seriously. Many people say our 90s and 2000s generation is spoiled and ‘not tough enough’, consumed by the idea of happiness. They make us out as hedonists, galloping across the globe in search of something that the older generations believe is right at home. I can see where they are coming from, but I don’t agree. I think we are changing the world but in a different way to how they did years ago. We are creating a global community where people can give and receive the support that many of our parents never had at our age. There’s bravery in asking for help which many of our parents and grandparents see as a weakness.
I’m not an expert and I won’t pretend to be, but I do struggle with asking for help and expressing myself. Please ignore the irony that I’m writing an article about it. So here, I want to share with you some books and videos which have given me a lot to think about when it comes to mental health.
I first discovered the School of Life around two years ago. Watching their videos, especially the ones about philosophy and childhood, pushed me to ask myself serious questions that had never occurred to me. The School of Life is an educational company which originally started in London. They have a wonderful YouTube channel with videos about anything you can imagine. From psychotherapy to architecture, these videos offer a homily insight into our thinking patterns and what makes us human. Also, the animations are fabulous. They’ve also published a book called The School of Life: An Emotional Education which I highly recommend. I have read it and re-read it countless times.
This warm, honest and funny book touched my heart. Mark Manson, the man who wrote The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, said that Wilson’s book was ‘the best book on living with anxiety that I’ve ever read’. What I loved about this book was how beautiful she makes anxiety. I always see anxiety expressed as an obstacle, a negative thing which was pulling me down and making it harder to live the life I imagined for myself. Sarah takes this ugliness and shares her story about how to create beauty from the scariest parts of ourselves. She’s also written a new book called This One Wild and Precious Life: The Path Back to Connection in a Fractured World which I am very excited to read. Click here to buy.
Here is a TED talk that you have to watch. Brené is an American researcher and, similar to Sarah Wilson, she advocates that our vulnerability is our greatest strength and beauty. If you have a spare twenty minutes during your lunch break or with your morning coffee, this talk has a lot to offer. She’s also super funny. I remember being quite emotionally fragile the first time I watched this, and I laughed and cried repeatedly throughout the talk.
The above books and talks I mentioned were more direct in their approach to mental health. Miles Carter is a poet, composer and orator from the States. He has a series of spoken word videos about mental health, love and what it means to be human. I discovered Miles by accident when I was sucked into a Spotify spiral and happened to play some of his spoken word material. His gentleness immediately drew me in. On YouTube, he also has some great talks about religion which gave me a lot to think about.