Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrated every May. From young adult, fiction and non-fiction selections, there’s something on this list that will help you understand what it’s like to live with mental illness.
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
Now an HBO limited series starring Mark Ruffalo as identical twins who couldn’t be more different, this story explores the lives of Dominick and Thomas. Dominick spends his days protecting his twin brother, who is schizophrenic. A multigenerational classic of a novel that deals in mental health, the pain of family and dark secrets, I Know This Much is True will leave lasting memories once you’ve finished.
The Upside of Being Down by Jen Gotch
The founder of Ban.do shares the intimate details of her first diagnosis and the start of a journey towards self-awareness, acceptance, success, and ultimately, joy. See our exclusive interview with Jen Gotch here.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.
Life Inside My Mind edited by Jessica Burkhart
This very important anthology focuses solely on mental health and is not to be missed. With essays from 31 of today’s best YA authors, readers get a glimpse into the writers’ personal mental health struggles. These essays focus on true events including topics of PTSD, OCD, alcoholism, drug addiction and more. This book will help readers understand that they are truly not alone and that their struggles and feelings about mental health issues are valid.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
An international bestseller, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest takes readers on a ride they’ll never forget. Randle Patrick McMurphy is larger than life. He’s also at odds with the mental institution in which he resides and breaks every rule in the book. Nurse Ratched will have to pull out the big weapons in order to keep the place peaceful for patients and restore order in the mental ward.
Searching for Normal: The Story of a Girl Gone Too Soon by Karen Meadows
Part memoir, part self-help and completely emotional, Searching for Normal is the story of the author’s daughter’s fight with mental illness. Through entries from Sadie’s diary, to helpful information that Karen Meadows wished she had when their family was in the throes of their trauma, this is a book for struggling teens and parents alike.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
In this instant bestseller by John Green, we are introduced to Aza and her innermost thoughts on being a good friend, a good daughter and a good student. With the help of her best friend Daisy, the girls decide to investigate the mystery of a fugitive billionaire in order to claim a reward. Can Aza be a good detective or will her internal thoughts prevent her from solving the mysterious disappearance of Russell Pickett?
All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness by Sheila Hamilton
Just six weeks after her husband’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder, reporter Sheila Hamilton is left a widow and single mother, grieving and deep in debt. This non-fiction book tells the story of David and Sheila’s romance, his diagnosis and death and the year after as she rebuilds her life. It’s a story of love and forgiveness and will stay etched in your memory long after you finish the book.
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg
Sixteen-year-old Deborah is tired of fighting her demons. She has schizophrenia and is quickly spiraling downward. When she enters a mental facility, it will take three years, all of her strength and the help of a skilled psychiatrist to save her sanity. This modern classic is poignant, dark and beautiful.
What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee
Beautifully crafted, What I Leave Behind packs a big punch in 100 chapters with 100 words each. Will has lost his father to suicide and copes by walking through his town, although there are some places he will not go. When he finds out a childhood friend was raped at a party he attended, he decides to let go of his sadness to bring joy into other people’s lives.