YA Books About Mental Illness You Should Read
Start writing a post

YA Books About Mental Illness You Should Read

A good book is always better than a short article.

YA Books About Mental Illness You Should Read
Public Domain Pictures

I've seen multiple articles of people describing their experiences with mental health. Those are a great way to learn more about what it's like to live with a mental disorder, but sometimes it isn't enough. You don't have that person's full background, or know who they are as a person in order to truly understand.

As an avid reader, I have found that reading books about characters with various mental disorders can be incredibly insightful. There are books about characters who suffer with the disorders, and books about characters who live with others dealing with these disorders. Both are helpful, insightful, and generally great reads. So if you’re looking for your next reading fix, want to know more about mental disorders, and/or are personally dealing with a mental disorder, I suggest reading these books.

1. Turtles All the Way Down--John Green

The reason I put a John Green book first is because Green has openly stated that he drew on his personal experiences and struggles while writing “Turtles,” and it helped him come to terms and understand his disorder better. Not to mention, Green writes (mostly) realistic teenage characters. “Turtles All the Way Down” is about Aza, a girl who struggles with OCD and anxiety, as she works with her best friend to solve a mystery in return for a reward.

2. Before She Ignites--Jodi Meadows

“Before She Ignites” is the first in the Forbidden Isles Trilogy. I just finished this book and was blown away. Jodi Meadows created a fantastical fantasy world without losing any of the impact of her protagonist’s mental health. Mira is a powerful protagonist who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, using counting and numbers to help her through it. I highly recommend it to fantasy fans.

3. Made You Up--Francesca Zappia

This book is a rollercoaster. The protagonist, Alex, has paranoia and schizophrenia; every day is a struggle for her to distinguish what is real and what is her brain’s concoction--especially once she meets Miles, the boy who is identical to the one from Alex’s “memory” which caused Alex’s diagnosis. “Made You Up” is a powerful book that you won’t want to put down.

4. 13 Reasons Why--Jay Asher

Because if we’re going to talk about mental health, we need to talk about suicide--and the reasons people feel compelled to do it. Additionally, it is not enough to watch the Netflix show and how that portrays suicide and rape. You need to read the book as well, because it includes so much more than the tapes and other people’s treatment of Hannah as to why she committed suicide. The book is so much more powerful than the show and gives you more detail and understand that what the show gave.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower--Stephen Chbosky

I won’t lie, I cried at the film--and the film doesn’t even include everything that happens, both in general and to Charlie. This is an emotional read, so emotionally prepare before reading. “Perks” is about an introverted boy named Charlie, who has experienced several traumatic events, such as sexual assault as a child and the suicide of his best friend. The book follows his experiences in his freshman year of high school with new friends Patrick and Sam.

6. Little and Lion--Brandy Colbert

This book packs a diversity punch. It features people of color, LGBTQ characters, and discusses mental illness. “Little and Lion” is about Brandy, or “Little,” as she adjusts back to LA life after returning from her New England boarding school for the summer. She struggles to settle into her old life while also being emotional support for her brother Lionel, or “Lion,” as he struggles with bipolar disorder. Also, our protagonist is a black, bisexual, Jewish female who stands out among most protagonist in YA books today.

7. Wintergirls--Laurie Halse Anderson

DISCLAIMER: for those who have struggled with an eating disorder, especially anorexia and bulimia, know this book may be triggering and I advise reading this with caution. “Wintergirls” is about two best friends who are in a contest to be the skinniest--until one of the girls dies. The book follows the surviving girl, Lia, as she struggles to cope with the loss of her friend and to recover from her disorder.

8. Under Rose-Tainted Skies--Louise Gornall

“Under Rose-Tainted Skies” is a book that really opened my eyes in understanding agoraphobia. Norah struggles with agoraphobia, and is barely able to leave her house even for therapy. When her mother goes away for a week, Norah learns to be on her own. Then a cute boy moves next door, and Norah wants more than anything to appear normal. This book is incredibly realistic: Norah is not magically cured by the end of the book, and definitely not by love. Also, the author herself has struggled with agoraphobia, OCD, and anxiety, so this book is based in true experiences.

9. Fans of the Impossible Life

“Fans of the Impossible Life” is one of many depression books I considered listing here. This book describes what depression is like, and calls out the ridiculousness of existing stigmas about mental illness. The protagonist, Mira, is a new student at Saint Francis Prep in attempts to be “normal” and have a new start. She struggles from crippling depression, often unable to leave her bed for days. This book features a biracial protagonist and LGBTQ supporting characters.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Olivia White

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies from the last breath of each solider who died protecting it."

Keep Reading... Show less

Separation Anxiety in Pets

Separation anxiety in pets is a real thing and recognizing the warning signs is important.


Since March, Covid-19 required most of the world to quarantine in their homes. Majority of people ended up working from home for nearly five months. This meant pet owners were constantly with their pets giving them attention, playing with them, letting them out etc. Therefore, when the world slowly started to open up again and pet owners began returning to normal life work schedules away from the home, pet owners noticed a difference in the way their pet acted. Many pets develop separation anxiety especially during this crazy time when majority people were stuck inside barely leaving the house.

Keep Reading... Show less
Robert Bye on Unsplash

I live by New York City and I am so excited for all of the summer adventures.

Keep Reading... Show less

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.


The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments