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How do I Choose the Best Mental Health Self-Help?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are plenty of mental health self-help resources, yet virtually all of them that are reputable will state that self-help isn’t always adequate when dealing with mental health conditions. While many people are encouraged to seek mental health self-help, it is with the understanding that they should do so in conjunction with getting help from a counselor and/or a psychiatrist. Many mental illnesses are best treated by a combination of medication and therapy, and books, magazines, or offline or online support groups do not make a good substitute for these. Thus when choosing the best of these options, look for those that recommend further investigation of a mental condition with professional assistance.

Some of the best mental health self-help resources come in book form. There are lots of books that deal with various mental illnesses. Many come in digestible forms, like the For Dummies series. The series has books on bipolar, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, and they may be a helpful place to start when looking to manage or understand a condition. A few minutes browsing on Amazon or other book sites can show people the huge range of books available that discuss various conditions, and this can get confusing because there are so many. Often a better way to find the best books is to talk with a general practitioner, counselor or psychiatrist to get recommendations. They may have a few books they think are the best that they routinely recommend to patients.

It’s certainly cheaper to visit online sites to get mental health self-help, instead of purchasing books. There are again numerous sites to visit. People might be better off searching for sites that are staffed or managed by licensed mental health practitioners. One such site, Psych Central, would be a good choice because it has evolved a strong reputation and has not only resources available but bulletin boards, and chat rooms, specific to a variety of conditions. Other sites to explore could include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or the National Institute of Mental Health. Many more sites are available; just bear in mind that some are not reputable and not all advice on a website can be fully trusted, especially if the site is not managed by someone with impeccable credentials.

Another type of mental health self-help may come in the form of support groups and availability of these may vary by community. Most groups are led by a counselor and they can be designated to address certain issues, such as parenting sanely, living with anxiety, surviving violent attacks, recovering from sexual abuse, treating depression, or many others. Again, a counselor may be the best way to determine which self-help group is most appropriate. However in certain types of groups, like addiction recovery, which may be peer led instead of counselor led, it may simply take some exploring to determining which groups feel most comfortable. This trial and error method may be of use in selecting the best self help group if there are several related groups from which to choose. Many therapist led groups will allow people to attend once to determine if they wish to continue, and this can be helpful in choosing the most appropriate support group.

A skilled therapist or psychiatrist is likely to be the best resource in finding mental health self-help to augment therapy. Other good sources of information may be found by asking general practitioners, family members, or close friends. Local NAMI chapters may have plenty of information too that can guide people to resources in their community.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
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