“A Beginner’s Guide To Being Mental” by Natasha Devon is an A to Z guide about everything to do with mental health. It covers topics including A for anxiety, F for food and M for media. She aims to answer many different questions on the full spectrum of mental health, using her own experiences of working in the field and that of other experts too.
Before starting this book I was unsure of it was going to be for me. I don’t know why but I was wary. But the book started off well when in the introduction it made the important point that we all have mental health be it good or bad. I think making this point so soon in the book was key and invited readers from all different backgrounds to carry on reading. It shows the book is relevant to everyone.
Something I didn’t expect from the book, but is a huge positive to me, is the humour that Natasha uses. Her anecdotes are often amusing with little comments in brackets that make you laugh and smile. It makes the book much easier to read and more relatable. It is also something I’d like to incorporate in my own writing as I feel it just worked so well with this book. It shows that even when discussing this serious topic there is a time for humour. It just works.
I also really liked that throughout the book Natasha uses a mixture of personal stories and information from experts. Again this makes the book relatable and stops the subject from becoming dry. The expert information is of course crucial to the book but the personal stories help you make sense of everything if you are not an expert. It is accessible to everyone. This is continued in the layout of the book. I like that there are clear sections within each chapter that make it easy to read.
When Natasha is writing the section on medication and mental illness, I liked that she made it clear that she is not a doctor. I think this is important for this subject in particular as many people will take things they read about medication as expert advice which can be dangerous. I also thought Natasha was well balanced in this section of the book and she makes a good point that this area is complicated.
Natasha is also very conscious about not too sharing or being instructive about practices in mental illness. She includes trigger warnings where necessary. She does this all very well and I think this makes this book a safe book for those with a mental illness to read.
The book covers a range of subjects, not just the obvious, which makes it an interesting and unique read. It is political at times but I think it could be said that the topic of mental health is a political one now. It is detailed and comprehensive in what it covers.
Overall I enjoyed this book. I’m glad I read it and would recommend for anyone wanting to know more about mental health generally. If you have read this book feel free to share your views in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.