10 Books To Read for Mental Health Awareness Month

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Every May, Mental Health Awareness Month focuses on bringing attention to how mental health plays such a huge role in everyone’s life. It educates about the different ways people can struggle with their mental health. Whether it’s grief after the death of a loved one, PTSD after a traumatic event, a generalized anxiety disorder, or schizophrenia, mental health struggles come in all shapes and sizes. But while most people will struggle with their mental health at some point in their lifetime, mental illness can make people feel alone, lost with no way out of their current mental state.

Reading books about mental health struggles can help people feel seen and less alone. Whether fiction or nonfiction, these works illustrate the wide range of experiences of characters grappling with mental health while trying to get from day to day. No two stories are alike. Each experience is unique, but all share the universal qualities of pushing for something better, for learning how to better care for themselves or their loved ones.

In that vein, here are ten books — some fiction, some nonfiction — that represent a different facet of what it’s like to struggle with mental health.

A graphic of the cover of Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson

Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson

Since her debut book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson has dazzled readers with her incredible wit and hilarious stories. But in Broken, Lawson takes a slightly more serious tone as she describes her intense struggles with depression. Nothing seems to break her out of her fog. She fights insurance companies to cover better treatment and shares an intimate look into her experience.

A graphic of the cover of The Undocumeted Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Rust: a Memoir of Steel and Grit by Eliese Colette Goldbach

While working on her master’s thesis, Eliese Colette Goldbach’s mental health deteriorates, and she finds it impossible to finish her thesis. She decides to take a job at a steel mill, joining a blue collar workforce. She finds herself enjoying the work — and the incredible pay — and slowly starts feeling more like herself. But will she ever be able to finish her thesis?

Fiction

A graphic of the cover of All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Towes

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Towes

In All My Puny Sorrows, we follow Elf and Yoli, two sisters who have left the Mennonite faith of their upbringing. To Yoli, Elf has always been the shining star, the musician with such incredible talent, while Yoli is divorced and trying to raise two kids on her own. But Elf grapples with severe mental illness, always on the edge of life-ending action. This incredible portrait chronicles the toll that mental illness takes on those who experience it and the families who love them.

A graphic of the cover of Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

Miranda and Lucia, two Chinese American sisters, could not be more different. Miranda, the elder, is responsible, driven, and knows exactly what she wants out of life. Lucia, the younger, is free-spirited, ready to go wherever life takes her. While Miranda is protective of her younger sister, it’s more than just that she’s the eldest. Lucia has struggled with severe mental illness for most of her life. Though Miranda has Lucia’s best interest at heart, her interference in Lucia’s life is not always welcome.


Whether you want to read fiction or nonfiction, there’s a wealth of great books out there. For even more recommendations, check out 50 Must-Read Memoirs about Mental Illness and Mental Health Book Recommendations for World Mental Health Day and Beyond.

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