Hello! It’s time for another Shattering Stigmas guest post. Today, I have Becky here to chat about why mental health rep in YA is important, and also to give some of her go-to recommendations for mental health rep in YA! As always, be sure to check out the masterlist of posts from Shattering Stigmas 4.0 to make sure you haven’t missed any of the awesome content from all five of the hosts.
Well, with everything going on lately, writing a post about mental health in literature feels super relevant right now.
As someone who has been plagued with mental health issues for…years, I feel like shattering stigmas and talking openly about mental health is something we really need to encourage, especially in books targeted teens and young adults.
Fortunately, there have been numerous authors who agree with this sentiment, and YA has seen numerous stories that attempt to tackle mental health issues (with varying degrees of success).
When done correctly, reading about a character with the same mental health struggles can be comforting. It can remind the reader that they’re not alone. Further, if the character finds success in managing their mental health with the aid of therapy, external support, or through personal growth, it can be motivating and encouraging for the reader.
However, the opposite is also true. Reading about a character who experiences similar mental health concerns but handle it poorly may encourage unhealthy coping mechanisms or give the reader a more pessimistic message, that their mental health concerns cannot be managed.
For me, the last few years have given us several mental health novels that handle the subject carefully and are some I highly recommend for individuals who want to understand an illness more or who want to feel understood.
Here are 3 of my favorite books that tackle mental health issues:
- Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia – This novel really spoke to me as I resonated so much with Eliza over the course of the book. The way her anxiety was portrayed was one of the most accurate portrayals I’ve ever seen in a book. Further, there were several parts of the story that mirrored things that I’ve gone through, most notably the pressure to deliver causing her to shut down. This is a book I think anyone who is active in online friendships or communities, or battle anxiety should read.
- Paperweight by Meg Haston – This is an older book, but I thought it gave a raw, but accurate portrayal of an eating disorder. While this is something I personally have not experienced, I have seen my close friend battle anorexia in middle school and high school. This book is not for those who are currently battling or in recovery from an eating disorder, as this book can be extremely triggering. However, this can be a good book to read if you want to understand someone who is battling an eating disorder.
- Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake – This book covers several heavy topics, most prominently sexual assault and victim blaming, but there are some parts of this book that discuss mental health issues. I feel like this is one of the most important books I’ve ever read and it’s one that if you can handle the subject matter, I highly recommend.
Thank you for sharing your recommendations, Becky! Tell me in the comments: what are your favorite YA books with mental health rep?