The focus of the year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety, aimed at increasing awareness and understanding about anxieties – and suggesting ways to help us cope when they’re at their worst.

So many of us will be affected from time to time, and for young people in particular it can be overwhelming and hard to manage. Here are some recommendations from our BBUK Mental Health Network primarily aimed at young readers, but accessible to all, to help raise awareness and offer practical advice, escape, and comfort to anyone who might need it. 

For anyone looking for support, MIND offers services, resources and confidential advice. 

The Spaces In Between – Jaspreet Kaur and Manjit Thapp

The city can make you anxious.

The city can make you feel shy.

But there are lots of things that might help,

You just have to use your eyes!

This beautiful picture book is one for anyone overwhelmed by the noise, pressures and anxieties of busy modern metropolitan life. Together, Jaspreet Kaur and Manjit Thapp show how we can escape the crowd and find the spaces to quieten our minds. You’ll also find a guide demonstrating ways to practice mindfulness in the city – with useful breathing exercises and a reminder of the value of good food and rest.  

Mindful Kids (featuring the likes of Hello Happy!, No Worries!, Be Brave!, and Stay Strong!)

“The Mindful Kids series of children’s books are so good! I would have loved these…and admittedly love using them now as an adult! They’re bright, engaging and informative, while getting to the heart of the emotions in an accessible way. The journal-like format allows children to really process their emotions and feelings, and show what they can do to help themselves”. – Eleanor Rose

A Dragon Called Worry 

Anxiety is a dragon we all carry with us in some form. Dr Sharie Coombes reminds us that we are born programmed to worry – and reframes worry as a character that is trying to help us (even if it will often get things wrong). This accessible and playfully illustrated tale tells an engaging story of girl and dragon, while simultaneously offering young readers a strategy to deal with their worries by making sure to examine them closely and talk them through.

The (Nearly) Teenage Boy’s Guide to (Almost) Everything

Stress. Hormones. Relationships. School. Social media. It’s a lot for a nearly-teenager to handle. Luckily, this handbook has got it all covered: the good, the bad and the kind of icky. A confidence-building go-to guide supporting boys in staying emotionally, mentally and physically healthy and happy through adolescence. And there’s an equally brilliant guide for (Nearly) Teenage Girls too!

You Don’t Understand Me – Dr Tara Porter

The book Caitlin Moran called ‘the 21st-century girl’s survival pack’. Written directly to girls and young women, Porter explores the everyday challenges that they face – and the demands and pressures placed on their mental health – with warmth and humour. Offering accessible advice covering everything from the pressure cooker of social media to the stresses of feuding friendship groups, encroaching exams, and burgeoning sexuality. Not just for young readers and teens, You Don’t Understand Me will also prove an indispensable guide to any adults hoping to better understand youngsters.

Why is Nobody Laughing? by Yasmin Rahman

“A powerful showcase of both teenage boy mental health AND teenage boy friendship – both of which are rarely discussed in both books and in society generally. Yasmin has the most special way of discussing mental health in her novels, as she takes difficult topics (in WINL? the main character, Ibrahim, begins having panic attacks, for example) and makes them really accessible for all. She has the most brilliant sense of humour, which is really at the forefront of this novel as best friends Ibrahim and Dexter do stand-up comedy together! This is a very important book about putting your own needs first sometimes and about sharing your pain – even when it feels impossible to do so. A must-read!” – Elle Brenton-Rounding

Fat Talk – Virginia Sole-Smith

‘The book I wish my parents had when I was growing up.’ – Julia Turshen

Body image – and the way we speak about it – continues to have a serious impact on the mental health of millions, with research showing that over a third of young people ‘often’ or ‘always’ worry about their body image. In particular, the word ‘fat’ has been weaponised – turned into taboo by social media, our day-to-day language, diet culture, and big business (the global weight management market is on course to be worth almost $300 billion by 2030). Virginia Sole-Smith’s book seeks to reframe the conversation and, crucially, redefine the ways we talk about our bodies – to ourselves and to young people around us. 

Finally, one for all of us – whatever your age! 

Bathe – Suzanne Duckett

A study at Yale University showed that warm baths can help ward off feelings of loneliness and isolation. Scientists concluded that an association between warmth and comfort is hardwired into our brains in infancy. Unpicking the impact of water on our health and happiness and featuring a host of practical take-away selfcare tips to set you on a soothing journey to heal both mind and body, Bathe shows how the humble bath has stood the test of time. Duckett’s tips will take your soak to the next level.