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Having representation of mental health conditions in the media is so important - that's why for Mental Health Month 2017, we put together this list of recommended reads for teens and parents. We have many of these titles available for members to check out in our library.


If you purchase a book through the links below, NAMI Seattle gets a portion of the proceeds from Amazon!


10 Recommended Mental Health Reads for Youth

1. Crazy  by Han Nolan (Grades 7-10)

Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen on bad times—his mother has died and his father has succumbed to mental illness. As he tries to hold his crazy father and their crumbling home together, Jason relies on a host of imaginary friends for guidance. Both heartbreaking and funny, Crazy provides more of the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for.

2. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzin (Grades 9-12)

Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life-which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job-Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That's when things start to get crazy. Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness. For a novel about depression, it's definitely a funny story.

3. Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (Grades 9+)

Challenger Deep

A captivating novel about mental illness that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.


4. OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu (Grades 9+)

After the lights go out at the high-school dance, Bea discovers fellow-student Beck in the dark, and she talks him through his panic attack. The teens meet again in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) group therapy. Beck is a repeater and a germaphobe—textbook OCD. Readers will easily accept what might, in the hands of a less skillful writer, seem like plot conveniences and connect with the well-drawn Bea and Beck. A compelling portrait of teen behavioral disorders and the struggle to overcome or, at the very least, balance them.

5. The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti (Grades 9+)

After a few months of watching the webcam, Jade decides to volunteer at the elephant house where she meets Sebastian, a 19-year-old single dad with a secret of his own. Jade finds herself falling in love with him and her panic attacks become less frequent. She discovers an inner strength that allows her to take chances and make decisions not based on fear, but on love. Deb Caletti's novel (S & S, 2007) about a flawed family trying to smooth its edges, teenage angst, and the healing power of young love.

6. Paperweight by Meg Haston (Grades 8+)

Paperweight follows seventeen-year-old Stevie’s journey as she struggles not only with a life-threatening eating disorder, but with the question of whether she can ever find absolution for the mistakes of her past…and whether she truly deserves to.

7. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. For fans of Silver Linings Playbook and Liar, this thought-provoking debut tells the story of Alex, a high school senior—and the ultimate unreliable narrator—unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion.

8. These Gentle Wounds by Helene Dunbar (Grades 9+)

Five years after an unspeakable tragedy, Gordie Allen is living with his half-brother Kevin, the only person who can protect Gordie at school and keep him focused on getting his life back on track. But just when it seems like things are becoming normal, Gordie’s biological father comes back into the picture, demanding a place in his life. Now there’s nothing to stop Gordie from falling into a tailspin that could cost him everything—including his relationship with Sarah, the first girl he’s ever trusted. With his world spinning out of control, the only one who can help Gordie is himself . . . if he can find the strength to confront the past and take back his future.

9. Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones (Grades 6-9)

Based on award-winning author Sonya Sones’s own true story, this novel explores the chilling landscape of mental illness, revealing glimmers of beauty and of hope along the way. Told in a succession of short and powerful poems, it takes us deep into the cyclone of the narrator’s emotions: despair, anger, guilt, resentment, and ultimately, acceptance.

10. The Teenage Guide to Stress by Nicola Morgan (Grades 9+)

Essential reading for teenagers and the adults who care about them. The Teenage Guide to Stress clearly explains the biology behind stress and, crucially, a huge range of strategies and suggestions to deal with it and prevent negative symptoms. A list of useful resources completes this fantastically wide-ranging, reassuring, eye-opening and comprehensive guide for young people, empowering them to take control of their mental health.

10 Recommended Mental Health Reads for Parents

1. I am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! by Xavier Amador

I AM NOT SICK, I Don't Need Help! is not just a reference for mental health practitioners or law enforcement professionals. It is a must-read guide for family members whose loved ones are battling mental illness. Read and learn as have hundreds of thousands of others…to LEAP-Listen, Empathize, Agree, and Partner-and help your patients and loved ones accept the treatment they need.

2. The Price of Silence by Liza Long

The Price of Silence, which grew out of the author’s article “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” after the Newtown shooting, looks at how society stigmatizes mental illness—including in children—and the devastating societal cost.

3. The Journey of the Heroic Parent by Brad Reedy

The Journey of the Heroic Parent will take you on a journey to a happier, healthier relationship with your struggling child—and yourself. Through lessons learned, mother, father, and child will achieve greater understanding, love, and humanity—no matter what the outcome.

4. Willow Weep for Me by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Examines the author's personal struggle with depression, the hidden roots of her illness, the effect it had on her life, and her ability to cope with the disease.

5. This Fragile Life: A mother’s Story of a Bipolar Son by Charlotte Pierce-Baker

The moving story of an African American family facing the challenge of bipolar disorder, This Fragile Life provides insight into mental disorders as well as family dynamics. Pierce-Baker traces the evolution of her son’s illness and, in looking back, realizes she mistook warning signs for typical child and teen behavior. Hospitalizations, calls in the night, alcohol and drug relapses, pleas for money, and continuous disputes, her son’s journey was long, arduous, and almost fatal. This Fragile Life weaves a fascinating story of mental illness, race, family, the drive of African Americans to succeed, and a mother’s love for her son.

6. It’s Nobody’s Fault by Dr. Harold Kopelwicz

People who wouldn't dream of blaming parents for a child's asthma or diabetes are often quick to blame bad parenting for a child's hyperactivity, depression, or school phobia.  The parents, in turn, often blame their children, believing that they're lazy or rebellious.  Even worse, the children with these psychological problems often blame themselves, convinced that they're just bad kids. In It's Nobody's Fault, esteemed child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Harold S. Kopelwicz at last puts an end to  this pointless--and erroneous--cycle of blame and helps parents get the help they need for their troubled children.

7. My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel

Drawing on his own longstanding battle with anxiety, Scott Stossel presents a moving and revelatory account of a condition that affects some 40 million Americans. Stossel offers an intimate and authoritative history of efforts by scientists, philosophers, and writers to understand anxiety. We discover the well-known who have struggled with the condition, as well as the afflicted generations of Stossel's own family.

8. Marbles by Ellen Forney

Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney’s memoir provides a visceral glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artist’s work, as she shares her own story through bold black-and-white images and evocative prose.

9. The Teenage Guide to Stress by Nicola Morgan Essential reading for teenagers and the adults who care about them. The Teenage Guide to Stress clearly explains the biology behind stress and, crucially, a huge range of strategies and suggestions to deal with it and prevent negative symptoms. A list of useful resources completes this fantastically wide-ranging, reassuring, eye-opening and comprehensive guide for young people, empowering them to take control of their mental health.

10. Behind the Wall: The True Story of Mental Illness as Told by Parents by Mary Widdifield

Behind the Wall: The True Story of Mental Illness as Told by Parents provides a shared voice for millions of people who advocate for a child or loved one living with mental illness, fosters understanding for society at-large, and delivers an ultimately hopeful read.


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