Mental health issues are something that I’m pretty passionate about. Maybe it’s because I’ve been struggling with both anxiety and depression on and off over the past few years or because some of my closest friends have similar struggles. It’s probably a combination of the two. Whatever the case, this is a topic I’m very passionate about, so reading about it from some of my favorite (or from new) authors is always really great.
A good book on mental health, in my opinion, doesn’t necessarily just need to talk about how to deal with mental health issues or give facts about staying healthy. Instead, it should demonstrate to someone dealing with any sort of mental health problem that he or she is not alone. There are other people going through similar struggles, and there are so many ways to get help.
Below, I’ve listed a few of my favorite books about mental health. One personal opinion of mine is that the fiction books are a lot of times actually more helpful to those who aren’t struggling because it’ll help them understand their loved ones that are. Whichever books you choose to read, though, keep your own mental health in mind, and try to avoid any triggers.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This is one of my absolute favorite books, and the movie based on this book is pretty great too. The main character, Charlie, is dealing with a bunch of different issues at home and at school. He’s had two loved ones who very strongly dealt with their own set of mental health issues. Throughout the books, his depression goes through all sorts of stages, and this is a great reminder that not every day is hard or easy.
Favorite quote: “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.” (So relatable!)
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Cody’s best friend Meg died about a year before the beginning of this novel. Actually, Meg killed herself. And Cody can’t quite wrap her mind around it no matter how hard she tries. Meg was charismatic, after all. She was the life of the party. This book is about Cody’s journey trying to piece together what exactly could lead Meg to kill herself. It’s a pretty great read, but it definitely has its dark moments. I think this might be a good book to read if you have a friend struggling with depression or a loved one that committed suicide.
If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski
This book is by the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms, and it’s basically a collection of some of his writings over the course of ten years or so. Some of these have been blog posts on the TWLOHA page before, and I remember reading them when they were first posted. Others, I hadn’t read before. Whichever the case, I absolutely love his writing, and reading it always makes me feel warm and happy. I would highly recommend this book to pretty much anyone.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
This book is about Craig, a suicidal teenager who ends up somewhat accidentally checking himself into a mental institution. While there, he meets some very unique characters and starts to experience a different sort of happiness. This eventually leads him to decide that once he gets out he’ll make certain changes in his life. The interesting thing about Craig is that he doesn’t feel like he deserves to be depressed, if that makes any sense. He doesn’t feel like his problems are really that big of a deal for him to need medication and therapy. I can completely relate to that, and I’m sure there are other people out there who can as well.
The thing about this book that is kind of upsetting is that the actual author of the book wrote this loosely based on his personal experiences with depression and with a psychiatric hospital, but several years later he did end up killing himself. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s no hope or a way to get help. And if you’re struggling, there are places you can go to get help and people you can talk to.
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
This book instantly grabbed my attention, though, and I felt as though I was on the road with Mim, the main character.
This book is about Mim’s journey from Mississippi where she’s been living with her dad and stepmom to Ohio to see her mom. Throughout the book, there are flashbacks that slowly help the reader understand Mim a little more as the events that led her on this journey.
One interesting issue that Mim battles with is whether or not she should be on medication. I’m trying not to give too much away because I’m definitely hoping you pick up a copy. One thing I will say is that I could relate with Mim in some aspects of her issues with medication.
How to Be Happy (Or at Least Less Sad) by Lee Crutchley
Last, but definitely not least, is the book I’m currently working through. I think it’s categorized as a self-help book, but the thing that really caught my attention was (not only the title but also) the description of the book on the back cover and introduction at the beginning. Because the author straight-up says that there’s no guarantee this book will make the reader happier. But he does say it can make the reader less sad. It’s interactive, like a workbook, and I really love it so far. I hadn’t seen a book like this before, and what I love about it so much is that I’m not just receiving information. I’m writing things down and trying out things that actually seem to work so far. If you’ve been feeling down, I suggest this book for you.