In the past, mental health and wellness were taboo subjects, but in recent years more people have been having conversations about the struggles of living with mental health disorders and illnesses.
Here is a reading list of eight books that shed light on the importance of talking about mental health.
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Though its movie counterpart starring Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder may be better known, this memoir holds just as much power. Kaysen tells the story of her year and a half at a psychiatric hospital, describing the pain and horror of her fellow patients and herself. It deals with the struggle of personality disorder and questioning one’s sanity.
The Man Who Couldn't Stop by David Adam
Adam’s memoir shows readers his life struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The novel includes elements of science and history as well, to give a complete picture of how this illness affects those who live with it, and how it has been perceived and treated through time.
So Sad Today: Personal Essays by Melissa Broder
What once started as an anonymous Twitter account to reveal secrets and process anxiety became a collection of essays on sex, death, addiction, self-esteem, and love. Broder’s book presents the subject matter in an unflinching way that can make some uncomfortable but helps others feel less alone in their struggles.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
In this young adult fiction novel, best friends Lia and Cassie compete with one another to be the skinniest. After Cassie dies, Lia becomes haunted by her. Anderson’s novel tells the harrowing story of teenagers struggling with eating disorders to shed light on illnesses that may often be seen as trivial.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This young adult epistolary novel is told through the protagonist’s, Charlie’s, journal entries. The book follows Charlie as he navigates high school as a socially-awkward teenager, while simultaneously coming to terms with his past trauma. It’s a story that, though specific to the character, so many readers can relate to.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
After walking away from nearly committing suicide, Haig penned this memoir to share why he decided to keep living. This book offers insight on recovering from bouts with mental health issues and how to live with anxiety and depression.
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon
Solomon details his own personal struggles with severe depression, including his trials with specific medications and how his treatment has changed over time. This memoir delves into the deepest and darkest parts of struggling through a mental health illness, shedding light for those who don’t know the fight, and offering a helping hand to those who know it all too well.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This is probably one of the best-known novels on mental health and how it can lead to devastating results. This book follows Esther Greenwood as she goes from a brilliant and promising woman to one undergoing a breakdown. It’s a modern classic tale showing why those suffering from mental health issues must be shown compassion.