Odyssey recognizes that mental well-being is a huge component of physical wellness. Our mission this month is to bring about awareness & normality to conversations around mental health from our community. Let's recognize the common symptoms and encourage the help needed without judgement or prejudice. Life's a tough journey, we are here for you and want to hear from you.
Happy Mental Health Awareness Month! A great way to learn more about the multitude of mental illnesses that plague those around us is to read about them, especially if the author is basing their story off their own experiences. The Young Adult genre has a book for every psychological disorder you can think of, so make sure to look for more beyond the ones I suggest. A few of these aren't even Young Adult, so there's plenty of choices in the middle grade and adult sections too. Obviously, since we are talking about mental health, I tried to include trigger warnings for each novel, but I might have missed something, so make sure to look up each book before reading. Happy reading!
1. "Optimists Die First" by Susin Nielsen (TW: Anxiety-Related Disorders)
Why you should read: The main character of this story grieved the lost of her baby sister by having a pessimistic outlook on life and developing a lot of irrational fears. Through the course of the story, we see her grow and change along with the other kids she encounters at the art therapy sessions she attends.
2. "Dear Evan Hansen" by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul (TW: Social Anxiety, Suicide)
Why you should read: A boy with social anxiety is roped into a situation of miscommunication and feels trapped to do anything about it, so he carries on the lie and pretends to be the best friend of a boy in his grade who killed himself.
3. "All The Bright Places" by Jennifer Niven (TW: Bipolar Disorder, Suicide)
Why you should read: Two teens meet and fall in love while one is dealing with the loss of her sister and the other is dealing with the effects of Bipolar Disorder.
4. "Keep My Heart in San Francisco" by Amelia Diane Coombs (TW: Bipolar Disorder, Suicide)
Why you should read: A girl fights to keep her family's bowling alley open along with an old friend by illegally betting on bowling games and copes with the beginning stages of Bipolar Disorder- the same psychological disorder that led to her mother's death.
5. "Let's Call It a Doomsday" by Katie Henry (TW: Anxiety-Related Disorders, Schizophrenia)
Why you should read: In this novel, a girl takes note of all the different ways the world could end and befriends a girl who says she knows when it's going to happen.
6. "Just Our Luck" by Julia Walton (TW: Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
Why you should read: Two Greek-American teens overcome their family's century-old-fighting and grow closer as they work together on a revenge project.
7. "The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B" by Teresa Toten (TW: OCD, Cutting, Hypochondria, Eating Disorders, Hoarding Disorder, Anxiety-Related Disorders)
Why you should read: Our main character meets a new girl in his teen OCD support group and also develops a kinship with the other people in there.
8. "Highly Illogical Behavior" by John Corey Whaley (TW: Agoraphobia, Panic Attacks)
Why you should read: This powerful novel gives us a wonderful example of what it's like for a teenager to live with agoraphobia and then a humorous twist when one of his old peers takes it upon herself to try to fix him.
9. "The Library of Broken Things" by Laura Taylor Namey (TW: Hoarding Disorder)
Why you should read: A teenage girl comes of age and develops feelings for a boy while watching her mom struggle with her hoarding disorder every day.
10. "Guts" by Raina Telegemeier (TW: Anxiety-Related Disorders)
Why you should read: There's no shame in reading a kids graphic novel, especially one that is so easy to relate to. This novel touches on the author's real experience with stomach issues and anxiety- something that was so refreshing to see for myself. And yes, I obviously own a copy of it.
11. "Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression" by Teresa Wong (TW: Postpartum Depression, Suicidal Thoughts)
Why you should read: This graphic novel memoir shines a light on an issue that many people go through after childbirth and shouldn't be ashamed of, including the author herself.
12. "This Impossible Light" by Lily Meyers (TW: Eating Disorders, Purging, Bingeing, Body Dysmorphia, Depression)
Why you should read: With the form of a novel-in-verse, this powerful story chronicles the main character's development of an eating disorder, and we really get a strong look at her inner thoughts and emotions.
13. "RX: A Graphic Memoir" by Rachel Lindsay (TW: Bipolar Disorder, Suicidal Thoughts)
Why you should read: Reading about someone's personal experiences can be so powerful and helpful in our own struggles. Rachel Lindsay takes us on a journey as she shows us how she dealt with her bipolar disorder while entering into the real world after college.