Ventura Recommends - What to Read on R U OK DAY

Ventura is a strong advocate of mental health, and with today being R U OK day, it’s fitting to explore some of our favourite literature for when those feelings of anxiety seem overwhelming. Here are our top picks of books to pick up if you’re feeling down.

Books that let you know you’re not alone:

When you’re dealing with mental health, it can be hard to imagine that other people are dealing with the same thing. So, picking up a book can be as good as chatting to a good friend, or taking that long phone call to your mum. In Girl On the Edge & Girl Over the Edge, Kim Hodges strips bare the stigma towards mental illness in a raw and confronting memoir; yet talks of the positivity and understanding that comes from dealing with it head-on. 

Are you a mum? Or perhaps know someone struggling with anxiety around parenting? Melanie Dimmitt’s Special is a curious, casual and conversational exploration into parenting a child with special-needs, and all the obsessions that plague one’s mind when dealing with this. All sorts of life events can trigger anxiety, and Special shows us that uniting in our differences is the best way to embrace them. 

When some of the best Australian authors come together to write about an issue, you know it must be a big deal. Split, edited by Lee Kofman and featuring the likes of Graeme Simsion, Fiona Wright, A.S Patric, Alice Pung and more, delves into the world of leaving, loss and new beginnings, and the mental experiences that come with this. Each chapter gives you a unique story, and you might just find connections with more than one…


Books that uplift

They say laughter is the best medicine, and humour is what you’ll find inside the pages of The Age of Discretion by Virginia Duigan. It’s uplifting chick-lit at it’s best, or as some say, Sex in the City for the over 55’s.

If you’re a book lover, you can’t go past the nostalgia of Storytime by Jane Sullivan – the perfect way to escape reality. Jane revisits some of her favourite books from her childhood and recounts what she loved (or hated) and learnt from these books. Cosy up with Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, the Moomintrolls or one of Jane’s favourites, the Magic Pudding.

Sometimes a heart-warming novel is all you need to calm your mind. Letters to My Yesterday by Karyn Sepulveda is a story of friendship, love, family and the enduring strength of women, and the perfect end to a long day (with a cup of tea in hand). A similar, but not-yet-released book is The Changing Room by Christine Sykes. In the lead up to Christmas, mental health is even more important, so keep an eye out for this one – a story of hope, second chances and the power of female friendship.  

Books that offer support

Whilst taking your mind off anxiety is a good way to deal with the short-term effects of mental health, sometimes that’s not enough. Renee Mill specialises in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and has developed a program to analyse and treat anxiety without the use of medication, in her book Anxiety Free, Drug Free. By reinforcing positive thinking and emotional strength, Renee helps those suffering from anxiety to get back on their feet.

Although not strictly related to mental health, Career to Calling by Annie Stewart is a book for those wanting to make a change in their life but unsure how. In a time when jobs rule our day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget about your passion. As a life-long career coach, Annie guides you through the steps to take to find and follow your calling and reach a more fulfilled life.

Reach out to a loved one for a chat, and don’t forget to ask R U OK?

If you are in need of mental health support, there are services that can help.

Head to Beyond Blue for a full list of helplines that you can call here, call 1300 22 4636, or visit their website for more.