Mental Health Representation Books

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It’s Mental Health Awareness Week! We talk about mental health a lot on our blog and Twitter and we both feel like it’s an incredibly important thing to constantly be talking about. We both have experience with mental health issues and the effect it can have on yourself and everyone around you, so championing books that represent those issues mean a lot to us.

That’s why to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, we figured it would be a great time to share our favourite mental health rep books. Mental health is definitely a buzz phrase for us, and we will read anything that claims to represent a certain kind of mental health disorder, so there are quite a few books that we have grown to love that talk about issues or recovery.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is an own voices novel that discusses anxiety, OCD and agoraphobia. I’ve found that there are few YA books that cover OCD, and this is easily the best one that i’ve read. I adored this book as a whole but it offers incredibly representation of mental health for a teenager and was a very touching and difficult read at times. I adore it and i can imagine anyone who is struggling to understand certain mental illnesses would completely understand them with this book.

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman
This is a very recent release, but one that i think everyone needs to read. I didn’t know what to expect going in to this book, and i wanted to keep it a surprise. And I had the best surprise when i found out that pretty much half of the book revolved around a really great mental health representation story-line. Alice writes anxiety incredibly and in a very realistic way that i definitely relate to. If you want an impactful and entertaining book that also deals with mental health in a very respectful way, definitely get your hands on I Was Born For This.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
I’ve just finished this but goodness, I fell in love with it. The mental health representation is really well intertwined with the protagonist’s, Kiko’s, personality as I often find some writers write the character then add mental health symptoms which doesn’t come across as genuine. Kiko struggles with anxiety in a range of different ways. There is a fair bit of trauma mentioned in this book so I would advise potentially checking for trigger warnings to be cautious (feel free to message me on Twitter to ask me) but I think Kiko’s feelings and how others react to them are written beautifully. There are also other mentions of mental health issues, such as depression, and I think it’s very well portrayed.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
I have not been quiet about how much i dislike this book, however the actual mental health aspects of it are incredibly done. It focuses once again on OCD and spiraling thoughts, and you really do think that you are in Aza’s head while she’s having a tough time. Those scenes where Aza is thought spiraling are so real and realistic it’s uncomfortable to read. If you suffer with a similar thing you’ll completely relate to this book, it’s beautifully written in that sense.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I haven’t read this book in a few years but it will always be close to my heart. I remember reading it for the first time and relating to so much of it. Charlie is one of my favourite characters of all time and the way he voices his thoughts and sees things is very well written. Though it’s never specified what he struggles with, he has mental health issues and his symptoms are relatable and real. It’s not just the “friendly” symptoms – it’s the ugly ones too, and the representation of these, without demonising Charlie, is greatly appreciated.

Mental Health Awareness Week is the 14th to the 20th of May. The purpose of the week is to promote the idea that talking saves lives, that mental health problems are valid health issues and everyone needs to be treated who believes they are suffering.

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