YA Lit for Mental Health

Being a teenager is tough for everyone. The already confusing time can become more overwhelming if you begin developing thoughts or feelings that don’t seem quite right. Everyone experiences ups and downs and emotions caused by the many pressures of adolescence. But for some teens there is something deeper and more complex at work. It is a difficult time to recognize that there is something wrong, and it can be even harder to ask for help. Fortunately, mental health treatment has moved beyond its primitive practices, but there is still the stigma and general public ignorance to contend with.

May is Mental Health Month, and it serves to raise awareness and provide support. These are also things that literature strives to do; books can educate while making you feel less alone in the world. Here is a list of books that cover a range of topics and issues. The stories and characters can help you along your own journey or better understand the illness of someone you love. Please feel free to comment with other titles that may be helpful.

As much as I love to extol the healing power of books, they alone cannot mend a person with mental illness. If you are looking to develop a treatment plan, youthpagescle.org is an extensive directory that includes a variety of counseling, support groups, etc. And remember, it is always brave to get to know your own mind a little better!

Bipolar Disorder


Crazy by Amy Reed

When We Collided by Emery Lord

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Anger-Related Issues and Violent Behavior 

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Reality Boy by A.S. King


Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Your Voice Is All I Hear by Leah Scheier

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

PTSD and Recovery from Abuse

These Gentle Wounds by Helene Dunbar

I Will Save You by Matt de la Peña

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


Sorta Like A Rock Star by Matthew Quick

Hyperbole and A Half by Allie Brosh

It’s Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo


Clean by Amy Reed

Zoo Station by Christiane F.

Beneath A Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson

Suicidal Thoughts and Urges


My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

Eating Disorders

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Paperweight by Meg Haston

Wasted by Marya Hornbacher

Coping with Loss from Suicide

Hold Still by Nina La Cour

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard


Break by Hannah Moskowitz

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Bait by Alex Sanchez

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets Evan Roskos

The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

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