Published February 4th 2016 by Hot Key Books (first published 2016)
Full title: Mind Your Head: All about our mental health
Author: Juno Dawson (with advice from Dr Olivia Hewitt)
Illustrator: Gemma Correll
Genre: Non-fiction, mental health
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“This whole book is one great big stonking potential ‘trigger’.”
We all have a mind, so we all need to take care of our mental health as much as we need to take care of our physical health. And the first step is being able to talk about our mental health. Juno Dawson leads the way with this frank, factual and funny book, with added information and support from clinical psychologist Dr Olivia Hewitt. Covering topics from anxiety and depression to addiction, self-harm and personality disorders, Juno and Olivia talk clearly and supportively about a range of issues facing young people’s mental health – whether fleeting or long-term – and how to manage them, with real-life stories from young people around the world.
With witty illustrations from Gemma Correll.
This was another book I picked up at my local library, and one that I’ve been meaning to read as part of my exploration (and slight reading-spree) of mental health literature.
I would place this book firmly next to We’re All Mad Here by Claire Eastham, and even suggest that if you’re going to read/buy one, then you should definitely also read/buy the other one. They even share similar cover designs and colours!
Juno Dawson is brilliant at taking serious and important subjects and making them easy to read about, and interesting to learn about. She cracks jokes on potentially every page, but it doesn’t come across negatively. She is trying to keep you entertained while informing you.
This book starts with a trigger warning, and rightly so. Plenty of people don’t just have one mental health problem, they may have several. Which would make reading a book all about mental health quite difficult. But as this is aimed at younger readers, it’s not too bad where triggers are concerned…BUT THAT IS MY EXPERIENCE. Other people may be triggered by certain things, and there was one instance that really affected me and I’ll discuss that later.
If you’ve read This Book is Gay by the same author, you’ll already be familiar with her style. I read most of Mind Your Head in one day, and it covered all the important areas. It’s essentially a guide to mental health for young adults, and it even has a bit for parents.
The first chapter is crucial, because it makes some very good points about mental health and what we associate with it, and why we should be open about it.
Juno points out that, yes, the official statistic says that 1 in 4 of us will suffer with our mental health during the year, but that if we really think about it, 4 in 4 of us will.
She also makes it clear that mental health and physical health should be treated the same way, and that the term ‘wellbeing’ is a better term than ‘health’.
Being open about your mental health is akin to someone coming out the closet about their sexuality. Juno refers to a ‘mental health closet’ that a lot of people will still be in, because they might be afraid of what family and friends will think of them. Starting the book off with these points sets the rest of the book up, and is a good way to raise awareness in young people who may be reading.
Then, the rest of the book explores different areas related to mental health. These include: what steps to take to tell someone, what will happen when you go and see your GP, different kinds of medication, an ‘A-Z’ of personality disorders, anxiety, depression, how LGBTQ* people can be affected, OCD, therapy, eating disorders, how school can affect your mental health, friendships, relationships, drug use, alcohol use.
Occasionally, there are also bits that the reader can fill in, and a mood questionnaire at the beginning and end of the book.
The hardest part for me was the section of the book which discusses Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Now, I don’t have OCD, but I do have intrusive thoughts which are indicative of there being a presence of OCD. I combat these thoughts which phrases to try and remedy them or make them go away. However, this isn’t affecting my every day life, and isn’t impacting me negatively.
This book produced a huge trigger for intrusive thoughts. And when I say huge trigger, I mean I couldn’t even look at the words on the page for fear of the intrusive thought that the book was forcing to appear. I said ‘NO’ out loud to push the thought away, and I begun shaking a little. I continued to read the rest of the words, but had to cover the offending bit with my hand.
I understand why this bit was included, there is a serious point to be made about what OCD is, but if that affected me so much (someone without diagnosed OCD) then I dread to think what it could do to someone else who does have it.
That’s the only reason I gave this book 4 stars. But other than that, I recommend it to young people and parents who may have children with mental health problems. Much like We’re All Mad Here it’s a guide I wish ad existed when I was growing up. I’d have accessed help a lot sooner.
Link to the book on Goodreads: Mind Your Head