October 10th is World Mental Health Day, and this year, talking about and improving our mental wellbeing is perhaps more important than ever. The global changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have opened the conversation and given rise to a widespread reckoning with mental health challenges like burnout and loneliness. Why are we so unhappy, and what can we do about it?

Here are three books by experts that show us the importance of talking about mental health, and how we can reclaim our mental wellbeing in order to lead happy, gratifying lives in the digital world.

1. BLIND SPOT: The Global Rise of Unhappiness and How Leaders Missed It

According to Gallup’s research, worldwide unhappiness is now at a record high. People feel more anger, sadness, pain, worry, and stress than ever before since Gallup began tracking happiness-; but we cannot blame the rise of unhappiness on the pandemic alone. In fact, according to Gallup, unhappiness has been steadily climbing for a decade, and its rise has been in the blind spot of almost every world leader.

In BLIND SPOT: The Global Rise of Unhappiness and How Leaders Missed It, Gallup CEO Jon Cliftonurges leaders to measure and quantify citizens’ wellbeing and happiness and outlines the indicators leaders can watch so they are never surprised again by events stemming from rising negative emotions.

Clifton says, “While experts seem to count almost everything -; CO2 emissions, the size of urban slum populations, every country’s GDP -; they don’t systematically measure how people feel. If the stock market collapses, it makes headlines everywhere. And all leaders worry when unemployment increases. But what about when anger rises? Or stress? Or sadness? Do they even know it happened -; or how to address these growing global issues?”

Blind Spot will help leaders better understand how people’s lives are going and see the urgency of measuring how people feel in their organizations, communities, and countries.

In Brain Energy, Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Chris Palmer outlines a revolutionary new theory that unites our existing knowledge about mental illness within a single framework: Mental disorders are metabolic disorders of the brain. Drawing on decades of research, Dr. Palmer explains this new understanding of mental illness in detail, from symptoms and risk factors to what is happening on a cellular level.

BRAIN ENERGY also sheds light on the new treatment pathways this theory opens up-;which apply to all mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, alcoholism, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, autism, and even schizophrenia. BRAIN ENERGY pairs cutting-edge science with practical advice and strategies to help people reclaim their mental health. Dr. Palmer says, “Brain Energy not only provides long-elusive answers, it offers new solutions. I hope it will end the suffering and change the lives of millions of people throughout the world. If you or someone you love is affected by a mental illness, it might just change your life, too.”

Activist and educator Kim Samuel’s new book, On Belonging, takes a hard look at what she calls the “crisis of social isolation”-;a phenomenon that’s only intensified during the pandemic. While we’re more connected, technologically, than ever before, she writes that “This age of isolation has created and fueled insidious and toxic digital spaces, contributed to the rise of mental health challenges across the board, especially among young people, and has left us feeling lonelier than ever.”

Looking to solutions, Samuel proposes the Right to Belong, which she sees “not as a new formal legal right, but rather as an undercurrent of established international human rights, a modern moral framework that inspires and informs social movements that span diverse sectors of society.” With inequality, displacement, and isolation on the rise, a lack of belonging has taken a toll on many people’s mental health; and Samuel argues that it’s the only way forward.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Marcel Schwantes

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