How Can Reading Improve Mental Health?

As we all know, mental health is very important to maintain and keep an eye on in our everyday lives, especially being in school. According to an article from Bustle, schools in New York will now teach about mental health in health education classes. This is a huge start to helping combat and learn about mental health, as it is an ongoing issue that keeps growing. Hopefully, this movement will influence other schools across the nation to implement teaching mental health.

Many universities do offer their own health center (such as my school – Towson University), that provide a great team of counselors, peer mental health support groups, and other resources that will help students according to their needs. While my school and other schools do provide services as such, unfortunately not all do – yet. This may then lead students to having to find their own outlets to help with managing mental health issues.

That leads me to ask, how do you cope with mental health? In my previous blog posts, I’ve listed multiple options and ways that can help students and others in general that are dealing with mental health issues. One that I have not delved into thoroughly though, is reading books. While reading may be a hobby for some, it can actually help with mental health issues.

Yes, you may be surprised but reading books can be beneficial and improve your mental health. Articles from Reading Partners and Book Riot states how doctors have even prescribed using bibliotherapy (or reading books) for patients with mental health conditions. It is proven that reading has been an effective method in helping individuals cope with mental health issues.

These articles list and explain how reading can:

  • Reduce stress:  It is proven that reading can reduce stress and increase relaxation. A study from the University of Sussex conducted an experiment where the participants heart rates and stress levels were raised. They found that reading helped the best to de-stress them in this experiment. Reading helps us get lost in the imagination of the words and can stimulate our creativity while having us relaxed. Don’t feel afraid to set aside time to having a reading break.


  • Sleep better: It is said according to Mayo Clinic that reading before bed can help you sleep better. As a college student, I as well as many others can testify for having trouble with falling and staying asleep. Some nights, my anxiety will be so bad that I’ll end up only getting 2-3 hours of sleep. While it may be easy to just grab your phone and read, it is recommended to read your paper books instead. The screen on your phone or a tablet can have an effect on your brain, which may keep you up even longer. As I’ve mentioned before in my previous blogs, keeping up on your sleep hygiene is very important as it can effect your mental health. So if you can, find some time in your schedule before bed and read for a little.


  • Help prevent memory loss and dementia:  As some of us may not be worried about old age now, reading books will have you thanking yourself later. Studies have shown evidence of how reading can help prevent forms of dementia and memory loss, while keeping your brain strong over time. It is found that those who read regularly during their lifespan showed increased mental capacity as they aged, while those who didn’t read as much during their lifetime experienced a mental decline rate.


  • Increases empathy: Last but not least, reading can help increase empathy as well as self-awareness for an individual. As readers become attached to a storyline, they have to understand the characters feelings, emotions, and motives. This can then transcend to the reader being able to practice understanding others behaviors and emotions in real life, which can benefit and improve on the relationships around them. 

    Emma, a.k.a. “emmmabooks” on YouTube lists her book recommendations on mental health illness along with links to each of those books. Check it out! 


Do you have any book recommendations that you read that helps with your mental health? If so, I would love for you to comment down below. In the meantime, put down the phone, take a break, and pick up a book to read!

Managing mental health in college – what can I do?

In the midst of a new school year, for many of us including myself, find our mental health issues arising, as we delve into the unknowing of what is to come. Ironically, I have been sleeping away this weekend, trying to avoid the work I need to do, as I feel myself entering into a new case of depression (which I was dreading for this moment to come).  For those of us who struggle or know students that deal with mental health issues, it is important that we keep ourselves in check, as well as making sure our friends are okay as well. It is crucial that we intervene before it’s too late.

This has been a tough weekend, after swallowing the recent passing of Mac Miller on Friday, September 7, 2018 due to a drug overdose. For those of us in the age bracket of 20 to 25 years old, this one hit hard, as it felt like a close friend had passed. From listening to his previous albums, such as “Watching Movies with the Sound Off” to his most recent album released back on August 3, 2018, called “Swimming,” you could hear the sadness throughout many of his songs, as it was very apparent and hard to ignore.

This is not to compare a student in college dealing with stress and pressure to a celebrity dealing with fame and addiction, but one thing that I do know is that substance abuse is not the way out, nor should be a way of dealing with mental health. It is mindful that we are aware of the different solutions one can delve into, before things escalate.

According to the article, “1 In 4 College Students Diagnosed with Mental-Health Condition,” a report from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found a quarter of college students did have a mental health issue and a fifth of the students have had suicidal thoughts. That’s an astonishing 75% of students suffering from some sort of mental health condition. That could be your own friend, classmate, or roommate. In our society, we are constantly asking what can we do to help ourselves or one another before a tragic event could occur?

Well, for one, I know checking up on our loved ones and friends is very important. Going back to the New York Times article, “When There Is a Mental Health Crisis in Your Dorm,”  it mentioned how for a former student, having friends around did help. Whether it be you venting your problems directly to them or being in their presence, it can all make the difference.

Five tips from myself for managing mental health in college:

1. Working Out – Find whatever workout works best for you; whether that may be going on a run, dancing, taking a boxing class, yoga, etc. I find doing 30 minutes on the stairmaster at the gym while listening to the right music instantly provides a relief of my endorphins. I also enjoy taking walks outside and getting fresh air.

2. Taking a long-hour-bath – While to some this may sound silly, I find that taking a nice, hot, bath actually does help relieve my stress. While an hour-long-bath may seem like a ridiculously long time to some, there are many benefits that it can help with. This helps me get rid of any negative thoughts that I may have been isolating in my head and completely blur them out.

Did you know that taking an hour long bath could also:

  • reduce risk of a heart attack
  • improve blood sugar levels
  • lower your blood pressure
  • burn 140 calories
  • protect you from illness and infection


3. Praying/Meditation– I find that giving at least 5 or 10 minutes out of your day – devoting it to whichever high power you believe in, gives you a clear approach and head space. I always try my best everyday, whether it is when I am waking up or about to go to sleep to thank God for blessing me with another day and to help keep my head on straight as I try to get through the year. You’ll be surprised to see the energy and time you invest your mind and soul and to see what will really work out for you. Our mind and prayers are two very powerful components that can bring an abundance of wealth into our lives.

4. Having a night out with your friends – No, I don’t necessarily mean having to go out and get wasted at Uptown, but simply just having a group of close friends, chilling at your place is completely fine and helps take your mind at ease. Grab some junk food, put on a movie, maybe do a face mask or two, and you’re set for the night.

5. Getting enough sleep – I know it may seem almost impossible as a college student with juggling school, meeting assignment deadlines, working, trying to have a social life, etc. pretty much leaves us with no room for sleep as it seems. Regardless, it is important that we still do get enough sleep in our busy schedules. My advice (that I need to work on myself) is prioritizing and not procrastinating. It’s important that we follow a schedule that allows us to get our work done in a timely manner so we’re not up late at night, scrambling around, losing our heads because of the work that we should’ve done earlier. I know I am not one to talk when it comes to saying no to procrastination, but that is one of my goals for this school year (to obliviate or cut down to it). With establishing a sleep hygiene, we are able to perform better and conquer the rest of our day.

More tips on handling mental health in college provided here by Kati Morton: