In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here is a list of books in which characters either have a mental illness or have a relationship (family, friend, romantic, etc.) with someone with a mental illness. And here’s some statistics that explain why reading about mental illness in order to better understand it and it’s effects is so important.
- Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.(source)
- Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year. (source)
- Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—10 million, or 4.2%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. (source)
- Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44. (source)
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.,20 the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–2421 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24. (source)
Depression and Suicide
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Self-harm and Impulse Control
Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan
On April 21, 2008, Steven “Crash” Crashinsky saved more than a thousand people when he stopped his classmate David Burnett from taking their high school hostage armed with assault weapons and high-powered explosives. You likely already know what came after for Crash: the nationwide notoriety, the college recruitment, and, of course, the book deal. What you might not know is what came before: a story of two teens whose lives have been inextricably linked since grade school, who were destined, some say, to meet that day in the teachers’ lounge of Meadows High.
Thought Disorders and Schizophrenia
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
A captivating novel about mental illness that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.
Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench. Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior. Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence to document the journey with images. Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head. Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny. Caden Bosch is torn.
PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt
Levi’s older brother Boaz returns from fighting with the Marines in the Middle East. He’s safe. Levi’s family has waited three long years for this. But Boaz is no longer the brother Levi thought he knew. Even if nobody else wants to see it, Levi can tell that Boaz has changed; something’s wrong. When Boaz announces he’s off to hike the Appalachian Trail, Levi knows he’s lying. He’s heading somewhere else. So Levi follows, determined to understand who his brother was, what he’s been through, and how to bring him home again.
Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos
You don’t have to be thin to feel small. Donnie’s life is unraveling. His parents’ marriage is falling apart, and his sister is slowly slipping away in the grip of her illness. To top it all off, he accidentally starts a rumor at school that hurts someone he cares about and leaves him an outcast. So Donnie does the only thing he knows how to do: He tries to fix things, to make everything the way it was before. Before his parents stopped loving each other, before his sister disappeared, before he was alone. But some things are beyond repair, and it will take all Donnie’s strength to stop looking back and start moving forward again.
Bipolar and Manic Depressive
Girl out loud by Emily Gale
*Silent Scream!* Kass Kennedy is nobody’s idol. She does forget the lyrics. She’s not a gleek. The x factor? Not her! Read her lips: She has the right to remain silent. Just try telling that to her dad. Because he’s totally lost it this time, demanding Kass audition for a TV talent show. Stardom is her dad’s dream, not hers. But he’s so fragile, she’s afraid he just might crack if she doesn’t go through with his latest, craziest plan. Not helping: Her hopelessly MIA mom. The budding criminal mastermind also known as her kid brother. And amateur shrink Izzy and used-to-be-sweet Char, who’ve gone all frenemies over a boy in brown boots. (Don’t ask.) It’s only rock n’ roll? If only! Inside, Kass is screaming, but no one is listening. How loud does a girl have to shout to be heard?
Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo
Chuck Taylor’s OCD has rendered him a high school outcast. His endless routines and habitual hand washing threaten to scare away both his closest friend and the amazing new girl in town. Sure he happens to share the name of the icon behind the coolest sneakers in the world, but even Chuck knows his bizarre system of wearing different color “Cons” depending on his mood is completely crazy. With graduation looming, Chuck finds himself with one last chance to face his inner demons, defend his best friend, and win over the girl of his dreams. No matter what happens, though, he’ll have to get his hands dirty.
And be sure to check out our display for more book suggestions