Novels About Mental Health
Literature has proven to be a tremendously useful tool in navigating the world of mental health for ourselves and our loved ones. Through reading, we can relate to characters with similar experiences, learn new ways to cope with mental health conditions, and understand the emotions of those close to us who are struggling. Below are some popular novels that follow characters on their mental health journeys. Stay connected as we add more literature every week during Mental Health Month.
Please note that these books may contain triggering material and discuss sensitive topics including suicide, self-harm, trauma, and substance use.
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All the Bright Places
by Jennifer Niven
In this novel, two teenagers come together to work through the hardships of mental illness, grief, and relationships. While grieving her sister's death, Violet meets Finch, who struggles with symptoms of an underlying mental health condition. This book emphasizes how people facing mental health challenges can believe that suicide is a reasonable solution, allowing readers to gain insight on one of the hardest struggles of mental illness.
It's Kind of a Funny Story
by Ned Vizzini
This novel follows 15-year-old Craig and his struggles with depression and suicidal ideation. Overwhelmed with the pressures of school, drugs, and maintaining a social life, Craig checks himself into a hospital where he is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety. This story sheds light on the pressures faced by teenagers and young adults, the signs of mental distress, and the steps to take in overcoming mental health struggles.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is a teenager learning to make friends in high school while coping with past trauma, loss, and change. Throughout the novel, Charlie has ups and downs as he builds confidence and struggles with feelings of isolation. While highlighting warning signs of mental illness and suicide, this book shows that people struggling with a mental health condition may not always appear to be having difficulty.
The Silver Linings Playbook
by Matthew Quick
In this novel, two people facing different struggles come together to work through their mental health conditions. Pat, who was recently released from a mental health facility, finds difficulty accepting being apart from his wife and searches for a happy ending. He meets Tiffany, who is coping with the loss of her husband. This book is an excellent portrayal of how the world is perceived by someone with a mental illness.
Turtles All the Way Down
by John Green
Teenager, Aza, faces struggles from her OCD and anxiety. This novel follows Aza as she learns more about herself and how her mental health impacts her relationships, all while navigating basic day-to-day life. This book introduces another insight to the mental health world, as it portays what it is like to cope with repetitve behaviors and intrusive thoughts.