Mental health | University of Oxford
Mental health
Mental health
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Mental health

The following resources may be helpful when thinking about any challenges that you may be facing and what you can do to address these.

The resources listed within this section are not intended to be used as a reading list and are by no means definitive. Some resources may be more helpful than others as different resources suit different individuals. The University is not responsible for the content displayed on external links.

Addictive behaviours

This section provides information about drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and excessive use of pornography.

Useful links

Ideas for further reading

Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking
Allen Carr: Penguin (2006)
Bestseller. Explodes myths about smoking (for example, smoking relaxes you or gets rid of stress), which sets you up and gets you into the right frame of mind for actually quitting. Actually quitting involves two things: one, deciding you are never going to smoke again, and two, celebrating.

Overcoming problem drinking: A Self Help Guide to Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques
Marcantonio Spada: Robinson (2006)
Former alcohol counsellor provides strategies for dealing with excessive drinking based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), helping develop skills to better manage behaviour in situations where drinking heavily.

The Addiction Workbook
Patrick Fanning and John O’Neill: New Harbinger Publications (1996)
A comprehensive workbook to help a person wishing to quit alcohol or drug use. The book enables the reader to recognise their problem, then identify and take steps to address it.

Anger management

This section provides information about anger management, including tips for stress reduction and steps for dealing with frustration.

Useful links

Ideas for further reading

Overcoming Anger and Irritability
Will Davies: Robinson (2000)
Case-studies illustrate what happens when people get angry, helping the reader to understand why this occurs. Encourages keeping an ‘anger diary’ to monitor situations and reactions to consider alternative, more effective responses.

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook
Martha Davis et. al.:  New Harbinger Publications (2008)
Chapter 15 – “Anger Inoculation” introduces a four-stage anger management protocol called ‘anger inoculation’, demonstrated to reduce both trait anger and anger incidents. Succinctly presented 10 pages in a workbook format. 

Managing Anger: Simple Steps to Dealing with Frustration and Threat
Gael Lindenfield: Thorsons (2000)
Anger is a natural emotional response to threat, hurt, frustration and loss. It can be a survival tool, as a vital means of releasing a build-up of emotional pressure. But anger is also a dangerous force. Uncontrolled fury can lead to rash words, violence and destructiveness, while repressed rage can result in bitterness, stress, misery and guilt. Both extremes can damage health. Gael Lindenfield explains the effects of anger on our minds and bodies, and suggests ways of dealing both with our own anger and that of other people.

Angry All the Time: An emergency guide to anger control
Ron Potter-Efron: New Harbinger Publications (2005)
Make immediate changes by learning to stop making excuses and stop blaming, follow the 8 steps of anger management, change anger-provoking thoughts, deal with old resentments, ask for what they want without anger, avoid violence and threats, and stay calm.

Anxiety and panic attacks

This section provides information on worry and anxiety. You could also review the section on stress management.

Useful links

The Centre for Clinical Interventions InfoPax

Further links

Ideas for further reading

How to Stop Worrying
Frank Tallis: Sheldon Press (1990)
Explains that worrying is how the brain alerts us to a problem which needs to be dealt with. Provides a problem-solving approach, enabling the reader to avoid stress and anxiety by controlling worry, understanding their fears, and facing life calmly.

Managing Anxiety 
Gillian Butler: OCTC (Warneford Hospital) (1985)
Booklet available from Counselling Service reception. Techniques for anxiety management, learning to control symptoms e.g. through relaxation or distraction techniques, undertaking graded practice in handling situations that trigger anxiety, identify and control upsetting thoughts.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway 
Susan Jeffers: Vermilion (2007) 
Helps identify the fears, negative thought patterns and indecisive behaviours which stop you achieving your goals. Through simple exercises and positive thinking, the reader is helped to feel more confident and positive about themselves, their actions and their relationships.

Managing Anxiety: A User’s Manual 
Helen Kennerly: OCTC 
Book and cassette tape available from OCTC. Eight-part self-help programme for managing anxiety which also includes a relaxation tape.

Overcoming Phobias 
Diana Sanders: OCTC (Booklet available from Counselling Service reception) 
A CBT approach to dealing with specific phobias such as insects, blood and needles, loud noises or enclosed spaces.

When Panic Attacks: The New Drug-Free Therapy That Can Change Your Life 
David Burns: Broadway Books (2007)
Chronic worrying, fears and phobias, performance anxiety, public speaking anxiety, shyness, health anxieties, etc, and panic attacks.

Panic Attacks: What They Are and What You Can Do About Them 
Christine Ingham: Thorsons (2000) 
Panic attacks and the different causes. Offers guidance on what a person can do when having an attack and steps to take to avoid recurrence.

Understanding Panic 
David Westbrook and Khadija Rouf: OCTC (Warneford Hospital) (1998) (Booklet available from Counselling Service reception)
Panic attacks and simple coping strategies based on CBT approach.

Understanding Health Anxiety 
Christine Kuchemann and Diana Sanders: OCTC (Warneford Hospital) (Booklet available from OCTC)
A cognitive-behavioural approach to understanding and managing worries about health.

Stop Worrying About Your Health 
George Zgourides: LuLu Press (2008)
Step-by-step strategies for countering illness obsession: learn to identify and treat the underlying causes of worry, counteract irrational self-talk about minor, everyday physical symptoms, and accept and redefine your experience of aches and pains.

The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety
John P Forsyth & Georg H Eifert: New Harbinger (2007)
A useful workbook with CD of mindfulness exercises to help be with anxiety rather than fight it and try and get rid of it all costs.

The Confidence Gap: From Fear to Freedom
Russ Harris: Robinson (2011)
A highly readable book about building confidence and moving in the direction you feel meets your values. This book is written from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) perspective.

The Reality Slap: How to Find Fulfilment When Life Hurts
Russ Harris: Robinson (2012)
This book is a supportive read about when life hurts and how to ride with the pain. It builds on one’s own robustness and resilience, and how to make sense of painful events. The theory comes from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment TherapySteven C. Hayes & Spencer Smith: New Harbinger Publications (2005)A workbook with examples and exercises to help stop over-thinking and build the robustness to move in the direction you want to go. What’s holding you back?

Bi-polar disorder

This section provides information on bi-polar disorder, also known as manic depression. There are also further resources which may be useful under the Depression section.

Useful links

Useful books

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness 
Kay Redfield Jamison: Picador (1996)
Frank, honest and compelling memoir of manic-depressive illness, written by a woman who, in addition to being bipolar herself, is one of the foremost clinicians treating this condition.

Living with Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Individuals and Families 
Michael Otto et. al: Oxford University Press (2008)
Information on the nature of the disorder as well as strategies designed to reduce the likelihood of future episodes. Emphasises opportunities for self-care (managing sleeping patterns, having a regular schedule, attending to thinking biases, managing irritability and anger, etc.) and encourages making a treatment contract with friends and family.

Overcoming Mood Swings 
Jan Scott: Robinson Publishing (2001)
Explains how cognitive behavioural therapy can be used to treat emotional disorders by changing negative patterns of thought. Includes tested practical techniques aimed to help people identify and manage their mood swings more effectively.

Depression

This section provides information on depression, low mood and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  

Useful Links

Useful books

Overcoming Depression 
Paul Gilbert: Robinson Publishing (2000) 
Provides step-by-step strategies and simple techniques. Suggests that depression is often triggered and maintained by negative thoughts and helps identify such depressing thoughts and substitute more realistic alternatives.

Feeling Good 
David Burns: Avon (2000)
The central idea is that depression comes from distorted thinking. A list of common distortions is presented. Common-sense, accessible style.

Managing Depression 
David Westbrook: OCTC (Booklet available from Counselling Service reception)
Information and cognitive self-help advice for people who are depressed. Rated ‘5 stars’ by the Centre for Evidence-Based Mental Health.

The Mindful Way through Depression: Free yourself from chronic unhappiness 
Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn: Guilford Press (2007)
Mindfulness-based self-help programme, proven to reduce the recurrence of depression. Includes a CD of guided meditations designed to break the mental habits that lead to despair.

The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Depression
Kirk D Strosahl & Patricia J Robinson: New Harbinger (2008)
A workbook and CD of mindfulness exercises to help you be with depression and work with it rather than fight it or buy into it and lose the momentum you would like in your life.

The Happiness Trap
Russ Harris: Robinson (2008)
Happiness is highly overrated and stressful to achieve. The book highlights our need to be authentic whatever the experience and be able to cope with it rather than try and attain eternal happiness. This book encourages the reader to make room for other feelings and experiences that make life meaningful, rich and painful from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) focus. Often a number 1 bestseller on Amazon.

Eating distress

This section provides information about anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and emotional overeating.

Useful Links

Useful books

Fat Is a Feminist Issue
Susie Orbach: Arrow Books (2006)
Exploring our love/hate relationship with food. Describes how fat is about so much more than food: it is a response to our social situation; the way we are seen by others and ourselves. Too often food is a source of anguish, as are our bodies. But “Fat is a Feminist Issue” discusses how we can turn food into a friend and find ways to accept ourselves for who and how we are. Following the step-by-step guide, and you too can put an end to food anxieties and dieting. Bear in mind that it is a classic work which shows signs of the times in which it was written but has messages that are just as relevant today.

The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women
Naomi Wolf : Anchor Books (1991)
According to Germaine Greer, ‘the most important feminist publication since The Female Eunuch”. This is a passionate rant about how affluent Western women have escaped from one form of enslavement only to fall into another - the ‘beauty myth’.

When Food Is Love: Exploring the Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy 
Geneen Roth: Penguin (1993)
Dieting and compulsive eating often become a substitute for intimacy. Drawing on personal experience and stories of participants in her seminars, Roth examines issues that surround compulsive eating: need for control, dependency on melodrama, desire for what is forbidden, and the belief that one wrong move can mean catastrophe.

Eating Less 
Gillian Riley: Ebury Press (2005)
Not about dieting, but about addressing the problem of overeating. In the words on an Amazon reviewer: Riley’s factual knowledge is impressive but never overwhelming. Her psychological insight is always relatable and ‘rings bells’ (lots of ‘Aha! Moments’). Her writing style is perfect. And her British common sense is pitched adroitly to the reader reeling from years of American hype.

The Beck Diet Solution
Judith Beck: Oxmoor House (2009)
Uses the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy to reconfigure your relationship with food. Encourages you to choose any sensible eating plan. Helps you to systematically dismantle the habits of thinking that could derail you and gives you the tools to follow your chosen plan successfully.

Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating 
Peter Cooper: (2009)
Contains educational material about bulimia and binge eating disorder, including information and warnings about the dangers associated with repeated vomiting. The book provides comprehensive self-treatment programme, with detailed strategies to help the reader control bingeing and purging.

Overcoming Binge Eating 
Christopher Fairburn: London: Guilford Press (2005)
Provides clinicians, sufferers, and interested others with an authoritative and accessible account of binge eating problems.

Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa: A self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques 
Christopher Freeman: (2001)
This is a complete self-help recovery programme to overcome anorexia using cognitive therapy techniques that have been tried and tested for many years and shown conclusively to work.

Getting Better Bit(e) by Bit(e)
Ulrike Schmidt and Janet Treasure: Psychology Press (1993)
This easy-to-read book motivates people with eating disorders (principally, bulimia and binge eating disorder) to take control and tackle their eating difficulties by themselves. Provides essential information about food, the body, dieting, the ill-effects of vomiting and laxative abuse. Describes self-help strategies for many areas of life. Further readings, attractive and funny cartoons, and detailed practical advice.

Breaking Free From Anorexia Nervosa 
Janet Treasure: Psychology Press (1997)
Includes sections for parents and other carers alongside a section for the sufferer. Tries to ensure that family and professionals collaborate and co-operate in order to overcome the power of the illness. Many families have used and commented on various versions of this book, and have helped to form its content. Experiences and problems have been shared, and solutions generated.

Obsessive compulsive disorder

This section provides information about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Useful links

Useful books

Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 
David Veale and Robert Willson: Robinson Publishing (2005)
Includes self-assessment questionnaires to enable the reader to identify the nature, severity and consequences of their condition. Presents a ten-step plan, using various cognitive and behavioural strategies. Guidance is given on how to set clear goals, maintain progress, overcome obstacles and prevent relapse.

Brain Lock: Free yourself from obsessive compulsive behaviour
Jeffrey Schwartz: HarperCollins (1996)
CBT-based self-help resource offering a simple 4-step programme. Several clients have reported that they have found it very useful.

Self-harm

This section provides information about self-harm.

Useful Links

Suicidal feelings

This section provides information on suicidal thoughts and feelings and steps to take to overcome them.

Useful Links 

Useful books

How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person’s Guide to Suicide Prevention 
Susan Rose Blauner: HarperCollins (2002)
Offers 25 ‘Tricks of the Trade’ - ways to manage suicidal impulses that have been field tested by the author. Useful to anyone supporting a suicidal student but may be less relevant to students who have experienced a single suicidal episode.

The Happiness Trap
Russ Harris: Robinson (2008)
Happiness is highly overrated and stressful to achieve. The book highlights our need to be authentic whatever the experience and be able to cope with it rather than try and attain eternal happiness. This book encourages the reader to make room for other feelings and experiences that make life meaningful, rich and painful from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) focus. Often a number 1 bestseller on Amazon.

Helpline and listening services (not emergency services)