Top 10 Books on Mental Health by Indian Authors You Must Read


1. Introduction

Importance of Mental Health Awareness

Mental health awareness is crucial in today’s society. It helps break the stigma associated with mental health issues and promotes understanding and empathy. Literature plays a significant role in this, offering deep insights into the complexities of mental health. Here is the list of ten books on mental health by Indian authors

Contributions of Indian Authors

Indian authors have made remarkable contributions to mental health literature. Their works provide unique cultural perspectives and reflect the intricate nuances of mental health issues in the Indian context. This article explores ten such books that offer profound insights into mental health

Books on Mental Health

Let’s Explore the top 10 books on mental health by Indian Authors.

2. Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto

em and boom

Overview of the Novel

Set in Bombay during the late twentieth century, “Em and the Big Hoom” by Jerry Pinto narrates the compelling story of the Mendes family. Em, the beedi-smoking, hyperactive mother, frequently finds herself hospitalized due to her mania and failed suicide attempts, while The Big Hoom, the rock-solid father, tries to keep the family together.

Themes of Family and Mental Illness

The novel explores the dynamics of living with a mentally ill family member. Em’s manic episodes and hospitalizations contrast with The Big Hoom’s unwavering support, highlighting the themes of familial love, resilience, and the challenges of mental illness.

Impact and Recognition

“Em and the Big Hoom” won ‘The Hindu’ Literary Prize in 2012. Its raw and honest portrayal of mental illness has touched countless readers, making it a significant work in Indian literature on mental health.

3. How to Travel Light by Shreevatsa Nivetia

how to travel light

Overview of the Memoir

“How to Travel Light” is a poignant memoir by Shreevatsa Nivetia, chronicling his experiences with bipolar disorder. The book offers a riveting and reflective look at his life.

Personal Journey with Bipolar Disorder

Nivetia candidly recounts his experiences with manic depressive moods, memories, and madness. His honest narrative provides an unfiltered look into the life of someone battling bipolar disorder, highlighting the human spirit’s resilience.

Insights and Reflections

The memoir offers deep insights into the challenges of living with bipolar disorder, emphasizing the importance of understanding, acceptance, and perseverance in navigating mental health issues.

4. Brink by S.L. Bhyrappa


Overview of the Novel

“Brink” is the English translation of the Kannada novel “Anchu” by S.L. Bhyrappa. The story revolves around the love saga between a widower, Somashekhar, and an estranged woman, Amrita.

Exploration of Love and Mental Health

The novel delves into the moral, philosophical, and physical aspects of love and mental health. Somashekhar’s compassion towards Amrita, who struggles with mood swings and depression, forms the core of this narrative.

Philosophical Depth

Bhyrappa’s work is known for its philosophical depth. “Brink” offers profound reflections on love, sacrifice, and mental illness, making it an enthralling read.

5. The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph

illicit happiness

Overview of the Novel

“The Illicit Happiness of Other People” by Manu Joseph is a smart, wry, and poignant novel that blends mystery, philosophy, and an unlikely love story.

Examination of Depression

The novel explores depression through the character of Unni, a comic-book artist who mysteriously falls from a balcony. This incident propels his family into a quest for understanding his mental state and the circumstances leading to his fall.

Blend of Mystery and Philosophy

The narrative combines elements of mystery and philosophical musings, offering readers a unique lens through which to view mental health issues. The novel’s intricate plot and character development make it a compelling read.

6. It’s a Wonderful Life by Ruskin Bond

its a wonderful life

Overview of the Book

In “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Ruskin Bond brings light and positivity amidst the gloom of the pandemic. His stories seek out the joys and positive truths in everyday incidents.

Positivity Amidst Adversity

Bond’s narrative finds joy in the smallest incidents, serving as a reminder of the good news and sources of happiness often overlooked in our anxiety-ridden lives. His writing cuts through the despair like a blade of bright steel.

Uplifting Narratives

The stories in this book are perceptive, uplifting, and deeply moving. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is another triumph from one of India’s most beloved writers, offering solace and hope to readers.

7. I Have Never Been (Un)Happier by Shaheen Bhatt

unhappier by shaheen

Overview of the Memoir

Shaheen Bhatt’s “I Have Never Been (Un)Happier” is an emotionally arresting memoir that chronicles her battle with depression.

Personal Memoir of Depression

Diagnosed at eighteen, Bhatt reveals her daily struggles and broader experiences with one of the most debilitating mental illnesses. Her honest narrative offers a poignant look at living with depression, highlighting the importance of understanding and acceptance.

Lessons and Acceptance

The memoir provides solace and solidarity to anyone with mental health disorders. Bhatt’s journey is a testament to the power of acceptance and understanding, emphasizing the need for empathy and support.

8. A Book of Light by Jerry Pinto

book of light

Overview of the Collection

“A Book of Light” is a collection of personal stories curated by Jerry Pinto, inspired by his experiences with his bipolar mother.

Collection of Personal Stories

The stories are harrowing yet moving, reflecting the terror and majesty of love, the bleakness and unexpected grace of life, and the immense strength of the human mind.

Empowerment Through Shared Experiences

This collection empowers readers by sharing the experiences of living with someone with a mental illness. It fosters a sense of community and understanding, making it a valuable contribution to mental health literature.

9. The Crazy Tales of Pagla Dashu & Co. by Sukumar Ray

crazy tales

Overview of the Book

“The Crazy Tales of Pagla Dashu & Co.” by Sukumar Ray is a delightful romp through the world of Pagla Dashu and his wacky company of madcap characters.

Humor and Mental Health

Ray’s humorous tales subtly touch upon the importance of mental health by showcasing the eccentricities and imaginative antics of Dashu and his friends. The light-hearted stories offer a refreshing take on the topic.

Cultural Significance

This collection, translated by the Jadavpur University Translators’ Collective, features rare illustrations and is a significant cultural piece in Indian literature. It captures the essence of Ray’s wit and creativity.

10. Inside a Dark Box by Ritu Vaishnav

inside a dark

Overview of the Book

“Inside a Dark Box” by Ritu Vaishnav provides a simple yet profound look into what depression feels like.

Illustrations of Depression

The book uses powerful illustrations to depict the internal battle of someone trapped in the darkness of their own mind. The visual representation makes the subject matter accessible and relatable.

Simplicity and Depth

Despite its simplicity, the book offers deep insights into the experience of depression. It is a valuable read for those seeking to understand this condition and the struggles of those affected by it.

11. Darkless by Tanu Shree Singh

darkless by tanu

Overview of the Book

“Darkless” by Tanu Shree Singh tells the story of Ani, a child struggling with darkness in his life despite having loved ones by his side.

Child’s Perspective on Depression

The narrative, presented from Ani’s perspective, highlights the emotional depth of a child dealing with depression. It captures his journey towards finding light and overcoming his struggles.

Illustrations and Emotional Depth

The beautifully illustrated book portrays the bond between Ani and his mother. It offers a touching depiction of their relationship and Ani’s battle with darkness, making it a poignant read.

12. Conclusion

Recap of Key Themes

The ten books discussed in this article offer diverse and profound insights into mental health. They reflect the complexity and nuances of mental health issues through their narratives.

Importance of Diverse Voices in Mental Health Literature

The voices of Indian authors add a unique cultural perspective to the global conversation on mental health. Their contributions enrich our understanding and empathy towards mental health issues.

Encouragement to Explore Further

These books are just the beginning. Readers are encouraged to delve deeper into mental health literature to further their understanding and compassion for those living with mental health challenges.

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