Top 7 Books With Mental Health Representation

May is mental health awareness month, and this is a topic that is so important to me. In the past, I have helped run (and participated in) a mental health book bingo, I have done many posts dedicated to this topic, and I constantly look for new books to read with MI rep. I am someone who has dealt with anxiety and OCD my entire life, so it is definitely something I relate to, and I think good representation in books is extremely necessary.

Today, I wanted to share with you my top 7 favorite books with good* mental health representation (sorry, I couldn’t narrow it down to 5).

*Everyone experiences MI differently, so what may be an accurate representation for me might not be the same experience you’ve had. Please be kind and keep an open mind.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

First off, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook of this one because it is incredible! This book has the BEST anxiety/OCD rep I have ever seen. I truly mean that. When I first read it, I was in so much awe of how well crafted the main character, Aza’s, thought spirals were. They so accurately depicted what I was feeling. I will say this one doesn’t have the best plot ever, but if you are looking for good representation, that is exactly what you’ll get.

It is very difficult to read, though, so please keep that in mind!

TW: anxiety, OCD, thought spirals/panic attacks

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

I just recently finished reading this entire series, and let me just say- it is SO GOOD. What I love about the representation in this one is that the main character, Stevie, has anxiety and takes medication for it. We don’t often get books where MI is normalized, let alone have medication be normalized. I really appreciate that this book did that, and I think this is so important to see in YA novels.

TW: panic attacks, murder

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

This book is so beautiful. I adore Akemi Dawn Bowman’s writing, and Starfish was such a  great novel. This one does such a great job of representing anxiety. Kiko, our main character, is so well-written and throughout the novel, her character really develops. I love seeing how Kiko progresses and overcomes her anxiety (obviously it never fully goes away, but she learns how to live with it).

TW: rape, sexual assault, abusive parent

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

I think oftentimes, books don’t really show just how much school affects teenager’s mental health. We all know that school can really cause stress and anxiety, but this never get represented. When I read this book, I felt so seen. I think it’s so important to acknowledge just how much pressure there is on students because adults often neglect it.

Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu

This book was actually recommended to me by Emma from Emmmabooks, and I had never heard of it prior to her suggestion. I’m so glad I picked it up, though, because it was incredible! I talked about it more in-depth in a post I did where I read 5 books with OCD/Anxiety Rep!

TW: depression, OCD, anorexia, suicide/self harm, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, panic attacks

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

This one is one I’ve talked about many times, but it was the first book I read with OCD representation, and it was the first time I felt seen in a book. I related to the main character so much, and this book has stuck in my mind for years. I definitely give this book credit for bringing me out of a bad place, so it means so much to me. It also has a really good twist at the end, so if you want a shocking book, I recommend it a lot!

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

This book is very dark and it deals with very difficult themes. It made me cry. A lot. But I think it is so important. This book follows a main character who was in a treatment facility after struggling with depression and PTSD, I believe (I may be wrong about this, I can’t really remember so please let me know). It was really well-written, and I think it is worth reading!

TW: suicide, self-harm, alcohol abuse, sexual assault, rape, PTSD

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If you are looking for even more recommendations, Marie recently shared her top 5, so I highly recommend checking her post out!

Also, if you have any recommendations of your own, please share them with me- I want to find more novels to add to my list!

Jessica

Are Trigger Warnings Important? // Discussion

This post was originally meant to go up a couple weeks ago, but due to the amount of research and time I wanted to put into it, I had to postpone a little bit! I’m really sorry about that, but I hope that this post was informative and useful in some way. Feel free to leave any comments sharing your personal experiences, or correct anything I say if it is wrong! I want this to be as correct as possible.

I recently came across a tweet that said that trigger warnings in books are unnecessary and that they are “spoilers.”

I was stunned when I saw this because I thought that this debate was over a long time ago. Personally, I do not have any triggers that would prevent me from reading a book, but I still find the value in including them. I want to dive deeper into this topic and explain why they are important.

Aside from my personal beliefs, I also read actual research to support my claims like I stated earlier, and at the end of this post I will have a list of some of the sites that I read- both for and against the use of them.

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What is a trigger warning?

A trigger warning is a statement at the beginning of a book, tv-show, movie, etc. that lists some of the potential “triggers,” or sensitive topics covered in the media, that could be harmful to the viewer. This is especially important for trauma survivors and those with PTSD.

What is the value?

Some researchers stated that trigger warnings could be harmful to those with PTSD in the long run because it causes them to avoid those traumas, rather than dealing with them. However, no research has been done with actual trauma survivors to determine whether trigger warnings are helpful or counterproductive.

It is not a healthy coping mechanism to avoid triggers.

That is not what I am trying to say in this post. If you suffer from PTSD, I urge you to seek help and go through the treatment process. 

However, what we do know, is that trigger warnings can be helpful if someone is just recovering from trauma, and can not yet be exposed to those triggers without severe mental strain. Also, if someone is experiencing a time of poor mental health, they can know to avoid certain media if it will be triggering for them.

Additionally, these content warnings do not necessarily cause someone to avoid the trigger; Instead, it may allow them to prepare mentally for them, rather than catching them off guard and causing a panic attack.

But what if I get spoiled by a trigger warning?

First, trigger warnings are not spoilers. Trust me. Just by looking up a review or reading the description of a book or movie, you’ll probably find the topic mentioned.

Also, trigger warnings are general enough that they are more or less themes featured in the books, not plot points.

If you are someone who doesn’t like to know anything about a book or movie before going in, then just skip the trigger warnings.

You may find them unnecessary, but that does not mean that they are not necessary for someone else. Keep that in mind when you see a content warning of some kind. If you don’t see the point, that is because they are not meant for you.

Research and Resources:

Psychology Today Article

Time Article

NYT Article– Read the comments of this one as well!!

PTSD Counseling Resources

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I hope that you found this post at least somewhat helpful. Once again, feel free to correct me if I said anything wrong in the comments. This post is meant to be informative, so I want to make sure the information is as accurate as possible.

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