The latest book from acclaimed writer and activist Scarlett Curtis looks to encourage us to open up about mental health
Earlier this year, my colleagues and I got to see the fabulous Scarlett Curtis at the Women of the World (WOW) conference over at the Southbank Centre, London. Along with hundreds of other fans, I was among those eagerly queuing to get a signed copy of her last best-seller, Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies) – a book that now has pride of place in my office at home. When I heard Curtis had a new book coming out, this time looking to dispel the myths around mental health, I just knew I had to get my hands on a copy.
What’s it about?
An anthology of writing from more than 60 inspirational people, ranging from comedians to social media influencers, activists to politicians, It’s Not OK To Feel Blue shares the inspirational words and thoughts of what mental health means to them. With 10% of the RRP of each and every copy sold going to the mental health charity SHOUT (a crisis text line), this is the kind of book that we can (and should) get behind. A call to arms to tackle the mental health epidemic, the anthology explores a wide range of mental health topics. From anxiety and sexuality, to race and addiction, contributions include a poem about depression by singer-songwriter Sam Smith; actress Emilia Clarke’s thoughts on body image and illness; and an open letter from mental health advocate Poorna Bell on her late husband’s suicide.
The overwhelming message this book delivers through the many individual voices is this: no matter what your age, background, gender, or situation, it’s OK to feel blue.
Words of raw honesty, hope, and courage
Split into six sections, each offers words of wisdom, creative outlets, advice, and personal experiences. Ranging from it’s OK to shout, be vulnerable, and ask for help, to the titular it’s OK to not be OK, the book ends on a list of hopeful essays on self-help, kindness, and happiness over perfection, imparting the overall idea that things will be OK. There are simply too many outstanding sections to write about in such a short review. Highlights for me included Fearne Cotton’s words on Silver Lining, the wonderful Matt Haig on Animal thinking, Bryony Gordon’s Seasons, and Adam Kay’s Stiff Upper Lip. For those struggling with their own mental health, Scarlett Curtis’s own Feminism as A Form Of Self-Help is a must-read, as is Poppy Jamie’s Happy, not Perfect.
A note from the author
Curator and contributor, Scarlett Curtis, shared her thoughts on her inspiration and hopes for her latest book, the future of mental health acceptance and awareness.
“We all have mental health. I don’t think I quite realised the extent to which that statement is true until I read the incredible essays in this book. This book is many things, but more than anything it’s a love letter to humanity, it is a shout, a scream into the noise that let’s everyone know they are not alone.
“It is a safety net, showing young people that what they’re going through isn’t something to be afraid of. My hope is that it will speak to those who’ve been suffering for years and those who just don’t quite feel right. It’s a guide to the friends and family of someone who is going through a tough time and a piece of cold hard evidence to show that having a mental health problem does not have to define your life.
“More than anything, this book is a puzzle piece of the global movement that is working to dismantle the shame around mental illness and tell everyone going through something that they are not alone.“This book is everything I needed as a suicidal 17-year-old, and even if one person buys it and feels a little less ashamed of their own mental health, I will have done my job.”
Should I read it?
Yes, yes, yes! Go out and buy a copy now. It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue isn’t just a book donating money to a good cause. It’s not just a collection of celebrity platitudes on a tough subject. It’s a raw mixture of personal experiences, hope, advice, and reassurance that anyone who has struggled with mental health personally, or through supporting the mental health of a loved one, can benefit from reading. While the book is fairly sizeable, don’t let that intimidate you; it is undoubtedly bound to become not only a best-seller, but a staple read for anyone looking to find out more about what it’s really like to live with mental ill-health. I know I’ll be gifting more than a few copies of this book to loved ones this holiday season – and I hope you will too.
It’s Not OK To Feel Blue (and other lies) by Scarlett Curtis (Penguin, £14.99) Out October 3 2019.
If you liked this, you’ll love…
'Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies)' by Scarlett Curtis (Penguin, £12.99)
Amazing women share their thoughts on what the ‘f-word’ means to them, in this must-read, best-selling, award-winning book.
'Notes on a Nervous Planet' by Matt Haig (Canongate Books, £9.99)
The world is messing with our minds. What if there was something we could do about it? Looking at sleep, news, social media addiction, work and play, discover how to feel calmer, happier, and question habits in this digital age.
'A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental: An A-Z' by Natasha Devon (Bluebird, £12.99)
Natasha Devon explores the questions she’s asked as she travels the UK, campaigning for better mental health awareness and provision. Calling upon psychology, neuroscience, and anthropology experts to debunk and demystify the full spectrum of mental health.
Shout is a 24/7 crisis text service, offering in-the-moment support for when life gets overwhelming, and you need immediate support. Anyone can text Shout to 85258 to be connected to at rained, supervised crisis volunteer who will chat by text. To find out more, visit crisistextline.uk