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Updated by pernicac on Mar 09, 2018
Headline for Telling Their Story: 20 Relevant Books, Blogs & Resources for Students & Educators on Mental Illness in YA Literature
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Telling Their Story: 20 Relevant Books, Blogs & Resources for Students & Educators on Mental Illness in YA Literature

Many serious and sensitive issues are explored in YA literature. And it is important that they are. Our students deserve to see they are not alone. They deserve to read about people going through the same struggles they face on a daily basis. This list is a collection of books, podcasts, videos, authors, lists, and various other resources that deal with topics surrounding mental illness in YA literature. This list compiles resources that can help you find a book on a specific mental illness, or explore YA titles as well as authors and their websites. The final link on this list is to a site that can offer help if you or a loved one is suffering from a mental illness.

6 Quotes from YA Authors On Why #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Everyone deserves to recognize themselves in the books they read. See why YA authors think diverse books are so important with these quotes! This video is short, and the quotes are powerful. It is worth the watch! #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Why YA fiction needs to tell stories of mental illness | Books | The Guardian

Although mental illness is a sensitive subject, it is important that we educate ourselves on This blog explores why it is important for YA books to tell stories of mental illness.

As stated in the blog:
"To me, seeing anxiety, depression, OCD and other mental health disorders on the printed page, being struggled with, surmounted, lived with and accepted, and examined in empathetic and enlightening ways, is enormously important, especially when mental health issues among teenagers are on the rise. They don’t always need to be centre-stage – but they do need to be well-researched, acknowledged, and treated with the respect due to any potentially life-threatening illness. Most of all, though, they need to be there."

Mental health and books: teenagers speak out | Children's books | The Guardian

This is a powerful blog in which young adults who have mental illnesses explain why they think it is important for YA lit to cover these sensitive topics.

One member of The Gaurdian's site, TheMileLongBookshelf, states the following:
No one should feel alone, and no one should be subjected to a torrent of abuse whenever they mention mental illness. Books have power and, for some, they’re lifesaving. So let’s talk about anxiety, obscure phobias and other mental health issues so much that they’re no longer stigmatised.

I want to see myself in the books I read, and I want others to see themselves represented, too. When you have a visible illness people line up at your door to give you home-made casseroles and cakes, but when you have an invisible illness, you are also invisible. Let’s try to change that, starting with YA fiction…

Recommended Reads: Mental Illness


8 of the Most Realistic Portrayals of Mental Illness in Contemporary YA

As is often discussed in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, sometimes the biggest way to stigmatize people is to not talk about them at all. People, particularly teenagers, who cope with mental health issues are often stigmatized because of this lack of realistic portrayals in pop culture. Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrated in May to reduce this stigma and promote awareness of various mental health issues.

11 of the Most Realistic Portrayals of Mental Illness in Novels

There is a great tradition of mental illness in fiction. The Victorians loved stashing mad women up in towers or attics, where they could slow-w-wly peel the wallpaper from the walls or moan and groan with such abandon that it would frighten the youn…

29 YA Books About Mental Health That Actually Nail It

From brutally honest to shockingly hilarious, these books get it.

Website at

Mental health awareness has grown significantly in the past decade, especially through representation in the media. A big segment of media that people may not realize can bring a large amount of awareness to mental health is books. More and more authors, particularly in Young Adult literature, are including characters with mental health conditions. Sometimes it is the main subject of the novel, sometimes it is a smaller detail that still has a large impact to the story. This list of YA books dealing in some part with mental health is a great start to personally bring awareness to this very important cause!

John Green

John Green is the New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska,
 An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, and
Turtles All the Way Down. He is one half of the vlogbrothers on YouTube and
co-creator of educational series Crash Course. 

His books are well known for their characters who are struggling with mental illness.

John Green discusses his new book 'Turtles All The Way Down'

The best-selling young adult author says his latest work, chronicling a teen with mental illness, is his most personal book yet. John Green talks about his personal struggle with OCD, and answers questions about the book Turtles All the Way Down.

Laurie Halse Anderson – Mad Woman in the Forest

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages.

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Laurie Halse Anderson discusses why she wrote the novel, Speak. She reads a few pages in this audio clip.

Interview on Speak

This is a 4 minute YouTube video in which Laurie Halse Anderson talks about her novel Speak.

Susan Vaught-Author - Home | Facebook

Here is a link to Susan Vaught's Facebook page, where she discusses sensitive mental health topics both in her own books and others.

Susan Vaught is a practicing psychologist who lives in a log cabin on a bird farm deep in the woods of Western Kentucky. By day, she works in a majestic old asylum, and by night she plots, twists, and writes. She has published 15 novels for children and young adults, contributed to four essay collections, and penned six novels for adults under a pseudonym.

Susan Vaught discusses her novel Trigger in this conversation posted on There are many teacher resources available for Vaught's novels on

10 YA Books in Which the Main Character Suffers from Severe Anxiety

10 YA Books in Which The Main Character Is Dealing With Anxiety, Mental Illness.

Popular Young Adult Addiction Books

Here is a list of young adult books on addiction from goodreads.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The official website for Jay Asher's debut novel, Thirteen Reasons Why. This book deals with teen suicide. The book, and the Netflix series based on it, have gotten a lot of attention lately.

Short Stories About Depression, Mental Illness, Insanity or Madness

Here is a list of short stories about depression, mental illness or insanity, including psychiatry and psychotherapy with summaries and links for online reading.

Website at

Mental health awareness is a serious issue. This website, National Alliance on Mental Illness, provides information on how to handle personal mental illnesses as well as those of loved ones and acquaintances. You can find support, read interesting articles, view informative videos, and find out how you can help support the millions of Americans who face mental illnesses on a daily basis.