These fictional titles explain what it can be like to live with a mental illness and how to find help.
Tiny Pretty Things by Sonia Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton (PHPL Call Number: YA F CHA)
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance — but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape theshadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.
Crank by Ellen Hopkins (PHPL Call Number: YA F HOP)
Kristina Snow is the perfect daughter, but she meets a boy who introduces her to drugs and becomes a very different person, struggling to control her life and her mind.
Recovery Road by Blake Nelson (PHPL Call Number: YA F NEL)
While she is in a rehabilitation facility for drug and alcohol abuse, seventeen-year-old Maddie meets Stewart, who is also in treatment, and they begin a relationship, which they try to maintain after they both get out.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
A List of Cages by Robin Roe (PHPL Call Number: YA F ROE)
Landing a coveted elective to serve as an aide to the school psychologist, Adam, a student struggling with ADHD, is assigned to track down a troubled freshman he discovers is the foster brother he has not seen in five years.
Mosquitoland by David Arnold (PHPL Call Number: YA F ARN)
When she learns that her mother is sick in Ohio, Mim confronts her demons on a thousand-mile odyssey from Mississippi that redefines her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard (PHPL Call Number: YA F BAR)
Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk and, as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake (PHPL Call Number: YA F BLA)
When Mara’s twin brother Owen is accused of rape by her friend Hannah, Mara is forced to confront her feelings about her family, her sense of right and wrong, a trauma from her past, and the future with her girlfriend, Charlie.
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chboksy (PHPL Call Number: YA F CHB)
A haunting coming of age novel told in a series of letters to an unknown correspondent reveals the life of Charlie, a freshman in high school who is a wallflower, shy and introspective, and very intelligent, it’s a story of what it’s like to grow up in high school, tracing a course through uncharted territory in the world of first dates, family dramas and new friends
You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson (PHPL Call Number : YA F JOH)
Liz Lighty has always done her best to avoid the spotlight in her small, wealthy, and prom-obsessed midwestern high school, after all, her family is black and rather poor, especially since her mother died; instead she has concentrated on her grades and her musical ability in the hopes that it will win her a scholarship to elite Pennington College and their famous orchestra where she plans to study medicine–but when that scholarship falls through she is forced to turn to her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen, which plunges her into the gauntlet of social media which she hates and leads her to discoveries about her own identity and the value of true friendships.
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (PHPL Call Number: YA F KIN)
Audrey has developed an anxiety disorder but she sees a therapist and is making slow but steady progress. She meets Linus, her brother’s teammate and finds she can talk through her fears with him in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (PHPL Call Number: YA F NES)
The best friend of a teen with superhuman qualities endeavors to have a life of his own that is both normal and extraordinary.
Underwater by Marisa Reichardt (PHPL Call Number: YA F REI)
Ever since the mass shooting at her California high school, junior Morgan Grant has become increasingly agoraphobic until even the idea of stepping outside her door can bring on a panic attack, a situation not made any easier by the fact that her parents are divorced–but when Evan moves in next door she finds herself attracted to him and begins to find herself longing for the life she has been missing.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (PHPL Call Number: YA F ROW)
At turns funny, sweet, smart, and sad, Fangirl traces Cath’s journey to independence as she begins college, struggles to have an identity separate from her twin sister, find her voice and passion as a writer and fall in love, maybe, for the first time.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez (PHPL Call Number: YA F SAN)
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.
For A Muse Of Fire by Heidi Heilig (PHPL Call Number: YA F HEI)
Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick, a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But ever since the colonizing army conquered their country, the old ways are forbidden, so Jetta must never show, never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad Emperor has a spring that cures his ills and could cure Jetta’s, too. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues her. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined and safety will never seem so far away.
When We Collided by Emery Lord (PHPL Call Number: YA F LOR)
Can seventeen-year-old Jonah save his family restaurant from ruin, his mother from her sadness, and his danger-seeking girlfriend Vivi from herself?
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (PHPL Call Number: YA F NIV)
When Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school–both teetering on the edge–it’s the beginning of an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.
We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (PHPL Call Number: YA F HUT)
Abducted by aliens periodically throughout his youth, Henry Denton is informed by his erstwhile captors that they will end the world in 144 days unless he stops them by deciding that humanity is worth saving.
Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (PHPL Call Number: YA F KHO)
Clinically-depressed Darius Kellner, a high school sophomore, travels to Iran to meet his grandparents, but it is their next-door neighbor, Sohrab, who changes his life.
Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara (PHPL Call Number: YA F MCN)
In the aftermath of a car accident that kills her boyfriend and throws her carefully planned future into complete upheaval, high school senior Wren retreats to the deep woods of Maine to live with the artist father she barely knows and meets a boy who threatens to pull her from her safe, hard-won exile.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (PHPL Call Number: YA F OSE)
A studious girl and a quiet, straight-A boy start a controversial podcast together that challenges their courage and forces them to confront issues in the form of backlash and censorship
The Astonishing Color Of After by Emily X.R. Pan (PHPL Call Number: YA F PAN)
After her mother’s suicide, grief-stricken Leigh Sanders travels to Taiwan to stay with grandparents she never met, determined to find her mother who she believes turned into a bird.
A World Without You by Beth Revis (PHPL Call Number: YA F REV)
After the unexpected loss of his girlfriend, a teenage boy suffering from delusions is convinced that he can travel through time to save her.
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (PHPL Call Number: YA F SIL)
When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course. To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life..
The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork (PHPL Call Number: YA F STO)
When Victoria Cruz wakes up in the psychiatric ward of a Texas hospital after her failed suicide attempt, she still has no desire to live, but as the weeks pass, she begins to reflect on the reasons why she feels like a loser compared with the rest of her family, and to see a path ahead where she can make a life of her own.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (PHPL Call Number: YA F VIZ)
A humorous account of a New York City teenager’s battle with depression and his time spent in a psychiatric hospital.
My Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga (PHPL Call Number: YA F WAR)
Seventeen-year-old Aysel’s hobby–planning her own death–take a new path when she meets a boy who has similar plan of his own.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (PHPL Call Number: YA F AND)
Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend’s death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder.
Skinny by Ibi Kaslik (PHPL Call Number: YA F KAS)
After the death of their father, two sisters struggle with various issues, including their family history, personal relationships, and an extreme eating disorder.
Believarexic by JJ Johnson (PHPL Call Number: YA F JOH)
An autobiographical novel in which fifteen-year-old Jennifer Johnson convinces her parents to commit her to the Eating Disorders Unit of an upstate New York psychiatric hospital in 1988, where the treatment for her bulimia and anorexia is not what she expects.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):
Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (PHPL Call Number: YA F GOR)
Will teenaged Norah, who is struggling with agoraphobia and OCD, accept that she could be the right one for sweet, funny Luke?
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (PHPL Call Number: YA F GRE)
Aza Holmes, a high school student with obsessive-compulsive disorder, becomes focused on searching for a fugitive billionaire.
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (PHPL Call Number: YA F SIL)
Secrets are revealed as OCD-afflicted Griffin grieves for his first love, Theo, who died in a drowning accident.
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (PHPL Call Number: YA F STO)
Consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off, a girl coping with Purely-Obsessional OCD learns to accept herself and take control of her life through her experiences in poetry club.
Between The Bliss And Me by Lizzy Mason (PHPL Call Number: YA F MAS)
After deciding to leave home to attend New York University and be near the boy she likes, eighteen-year-old Sydney Holman learns that her long-absent father is schizophrenic and she may be, too.
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (PHPL Call Number: YA F SHU)
Caden lives in a world where he is a pirate captain on a voyage to Challenger Deep, the ocean’s deepest trench. He also lives in a world where he is paranoid and demonstrates obsessive compulsive behaviors.
Willow by Julia Hoban (PHPL Call Number: YA F HOB)
Sixteen-year-old Willow, who was driving the car that killed both of her parents, copes with the pain and guilt by cutting herself, until she meets a smart and sensitive boy who is determined to help her stop.
Cut by Patricia McCormick (PHPL Call Number: YA F MCC)
While confined to a mental hospital, thirteen-year-old Callie slowly comes to understand some of the reasons behind her self-mutilation, and gradually starts to get better.
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield (PHPL Call Number: YA F RAI)
Fifteen-year-old Kendra, a budding artist, has not felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially since she cannot remember her abuser’s identity, and she copes with the pressure by cutting herself.
The JED Foundation (A nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults): Text “START” to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for support
National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
The Trevor Project (for LGBTQ+ teens and young adults ages 13-24): 1-866-488-7386 (Lifeline)
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN): 1-800-656-4673 or use the 24-hour Chat: online.rainn.org
To Write Love on Her Arms: 24 Hour Crisis Mobile Team: (866) 495-6735
Make It OK (A campaign to reduce mental illness stigma)