5 poetry books about mental health

Author: Wendy Tuxworth

April is National Poetry Month, so I thought I would put together a list of 5 poetry books that talk about mental health. I know poetry isn’t for everyone, but I would seriously consider giving these a go! Some of them are really accessible for people who don’t think that poetry is ‘for’ them. (I’m kind-of like that too!)

Our Numbered Days by Neil Hillborn

You might have seen a video of Neil Hillborn’s poem OCD – it went viral a couple of years ago. In this collection he talks more about mental health with poems such as ‘The Sadness Factory’ and ‘Not Dead’. Give the video below a listen for a taste of what his poetry is like.

She Must Be Mad by Charly Cox

I’ve reviewed this poetry collection before, so I’ll be brief – these poems talk about love, mental health, body image, and growing up into a woman. I connected with every single one of these poems.

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Content warning: mentions of suicide

I couldn’t write this list without mentioning my favourite, Sylvia Plath. Yes, she’s a classic. But she’s a classic for a reason. If you haven’t tried her poetry yet, I’d seriously encourage you to do so. There’s so much emotion in her words that ‘getting’ the meaning behind them doesn’t really matter.

The Borderline Between Life and Poetry: A Complete Book of Poetry by A.S. Minor

Content warning: child abuse

I had to include this poetry collection by A.S. Minor because I am committed to spreading the word about books that have good representations of BPD. It feels like there is so little out there, so when I find a gem, I have to shout about it to the world. Check out his spoken word poem ‘You’re Not Alone’:

To Bedlam and Part Way Back by Anne Sexton

Content warnings: abortion, death, mentions of suicide

This poetry collection, first published in the 60s, deals with a lot: confinement in a psychiatric hospital, a grandmother’s forgotten letters, the death of a brother, midsummer’s feeling of ecstasy, an unwanted child, the separation of mother from daughter. It is intense. And absolutely incredible.

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