Tools for mental health

A Toolkit for Modern Life: 53 Ways to Look After Your Mind (Quercus Publishing) by Emma Hepburn, reviewed by Philip Miti.

Clinical psychologist Dr Emma Hepburn, otherwise known as The Psychology Mum on social media, put this toolkit together to help us look after body and mind as we navigate the modern world.

Hepburn concisely lays the foundations of mental wellbeing, then guides the reader through some common pressure points in modern mental health. Among them are the challenges of emotion regulation, ‘antisocial media’, and the unfading echo of the inner critic in thought life.  With a compassionate tone, Hepburn debunks myths and presents a range of mental health tools developed through evidence-based models and practice. 

Cute illustrations help us visualise the positive and negative aspects of mental health. My favourite is the ‘Mental Health Jam Jar’. In everyday life, this jar might get filled or even overfilled with strawberries and raspberries – signifying vulnerabilities and stressors. It can be distressing when the jar is full, but we might enlarge its size with the help of supportive friends and exercise, pictured as ‘cheerleader chutney’ and a baby dumbbell. 

Hepburn reassures readers that although stress can increase with life’s unexpected turns and barriers, it is not always bad: ‘It’s an inevitable part of travelling the road.’ The accompanying doodle is a path which starts in a straight line before dipping through pesky potholes, wiggling through the valley-of-troughs, and after crossing the ‘bridge over troubled waters’, boings into an unexpected jump for joy.

Alongside the enlightening doodles are blank spaces for self-reflection, bitesize explanations of brain processes, and practical guidance. Each person’s doodles and choice of tools will be unique, but it is deeply comforting to see that we all share the need to attend to our mental health.

-       Reviewed by Philip Miti, PhD Candidate, University of Heidelberg

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber