Guest Post: The Importance of Mental Health Books in YA + Recommendations | Shattering Stigmas 2018

Posted October 12, 2018 by Madalyn || 7 Comments

by Becky

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.

becky’s recommendations

Hey friends,

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


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Thank you for sharing your recommendations, Becky! Tell me in the comments: what are your favorite YA books with mental health rep?

About Becky

Hi friends! My name is Becky. I’m a 24-year-old bookworm, Ravenclaw, and lover of all things YA. I share my bookish thoughts on BookTube, Goodreads, and my blog, and share pretty book pictures on bookstagram. I also like to connect with fellow readers on Twitter. I’m a readathon addict, unboxing fiend, and sucker for a solid retelling. I like singing along to Broadway or Disney soundtracks (though I’m mediocre at best), bingeing Netflix, and organizing my bookshelves.

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7 responses to “Guest Post: The Importance of Mental Health Books in YA + Recommendations | Shattering Stigmas 2018

  1. Tay @ Stay on the Page

    Some of my favorite books with mental health rep are GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE by Paula Stokes, STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman and DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY by Adib Khorram. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE GIRL MADE OF STARS. Great picks!

  2. I have been so happy with the number of books addressing mental health issues and how many of them are doing it so well. Eliza was a wonderful book, and there are so many great ones out there dealing with anxiety. I loved How to Disappear a lot.

  3. I haven’t read any of these, but they look really interesting. I agree that it’s hard to portray mental health struggles well in literature sometimes, and I’ve read books where I was angry at some things and the way they are portrayed. It’s also true that sometimes when a book is very well done, it is incredibly triggering. It’s funny how that can happen, isn’t it? But I guess it serves the purpose of showing others what it means to struggle with it.

  4. These are great recommendations! I loved Eliza and Her Monsters so much and thought that the anxiety rep was on point, for me, personally, at least. some books I also loved dealing with mental health were A Quiet Kind of Thunder, Starfish, I Was Born For This, Under Rose-Tainted Skies, How To Disappear and Girl Against The Universe 🙂

  5. Great recommendations, Becky. I really loved Eliza and her Monsters. Paperweight was longer ago, but I do remember it being a very powerful read. You are right in that, when done correctly, these books make us feel less alone.

    I always recommend Under Rose-Tainted Skies and Am I Normal Yet?

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