To commemorate to this year’s Mental Health Awareness Day, I found it increasingly difficult to draw attention to just one book of relevance in recognition of this event. Instead, I found one literary organisation who are doing everything they can to raise awareness for self-help and mental health.
Founded by journalist Toni Jones, Shelf Help is a monthly book club and community project that place their focus upon self-help and self-development, attempting to demystify these words in doing so. Wanting to try and provide people with the support they might need, or give people a positive turn in the right direction, the aim of the club is to show the ways that self-help can benefit you.
Each month, a different book is chosen for members to begin reading, ready to discuss either online or at physical meet-ups. The digital meetings take place over Facebook and Instagram between 8:00 and 9:00pm every Monday, giving people the opportunity to openly discuss their own experiences reading the book. For those who want to attend a real-life book club however, they occur in the last week of the month at numerous different locations.
The chosen book for October is Help Me! by Marianne Power, a true story of Power’s own journey delving into self-help. After querying whether self-help was a useful tool to enhance wellbeing, Power decided to try out different techniques and after being impressed by the outcomes, created her novel as a cheat-sheet for beginners to self-help.
This globally accessible organisation provides people with an open space to read and learn more about mental health and wellbeing, giving people a chance to talk about their own experiences. Encouraging an open discussion surrounding mental health is particularly important in today’s society, as we need to create a widespread viewpoint that mental health is OK, and most importantly: its OK not to be OK.
Toni Jones herself does a lot to raise awareness for mental health issues, including creating a blog that focuses upon wellbeing and writing articles to support mental health awareness. The focus of Shelf-Help is not solely on self-development but aims to cover a wide variety of books, discussing everything from dealing with anxiety and depression to encouraging daily mindfulness.
It is important to note that self-help doesn’t mean refusing assistance from other places, such as attending counselling, visiting the doctor, or even gaining support from your family. Self-help books can be effective to use as a coping mechanism alongside seeking these other forms of assistance. There are also apps that you can get to assist you and encourage self-help, including Headspace and Lumosity. Other organisations you can contact if you need guidance include Samaritans, Mind, NHS, Sussex University Counselling Service and Sussex’s The Mental Health Project Society.
Shelf-Help is one of the incredible organisations that incorporates self-help techniques, mental health awareness and the cathartic act of reading to create a platform encouraging positive discussion surrounding mental health and wellbeing.
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