Books About Mental Illness for Teenagers: What is the Most Common Mental Illness in Youth?

Today is National Teen Mental Health Day! Due to the fact that I was still a teenager only two years ago, my recollections of that time are still pretty vivid. At 21, I’m technically an adult, but I still don’t feel like one very often. There are many things I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self. But since it’s not possible, I do wish that any teenagers reading this might gain some useful perspective.

These days, discussions about mental health are no longer passive. More and more people recognise the validity and prevalence of mental health issues. Though, people are still being cautious and speak in low tones when they talk. The mental suffering we experience is still shrouded in stigma and shame. This can make it challenging to accept mental illness as common and to seek care when needed.

Meeting yourself with kindness and compassion might help you get through difficult times. It’s not easy to form that habit, but I believe that a deep understanding of the problems at play can help. Engaging with the work of people who have gone through similar mental challenges as you have can be a helpful method to do this. Reading about how they overcame their mental illness and accepted who they really were is inspiring. It can also aid others close to us in understanding our situation.

I hope you, as a teen, find something useful in this selection of books, whether you’ve been having trouble feeling mentally healthy or you just want to learn more about the issues your classmates encounter. If things are seeming too overwhelming, counselling is something to think about trying. In many cases, getting healthier means finally making that call to the doctor.

Also, you might pick up these books to deepen your familiarity with and insight into these issues. If I had found them when I was a teenager, it would have made a huge difference in my life. However, they have helped me to maintain a state of heightened awareness. After reading these, I feel more understanding and sympathy for angsty teenagers and many still unhappy adults. Many of us are struggling, and knowing that you recognise this can help immensely.

Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles Edited by Jessica Burkhart

Essays by some of our favourite young adult authors are included in the book Life Inside My Mind. Because of their experience writing for teenagers, these authors tell their own stories in a way that an adolescent reader can easily relate to. They discuss their internal conflicts and the strategies that proved useful in overcoming them. The variety of experiences described in these pieces demonstrates that there is no single optimal strategy for dealing with mental illness.


If you’re dealing with a troubled adolescent, you’ll find helpful advice in this book. You may be a worried classmate, pal, caregiver, or educator. Teenagers who have considered or attempted suicide, those who are grieving, and those who have survived natural calamities are the primary audiences for this book.

Every one of us has been in a position where we wanted to aid a fellow human being in distress but lacked the knowledge or resources to do so effectively. This book is an attempt to guide us through these torturous exchanges. As a result, we can better understand how to approach and maybe assist someone who is experiencing emotional distress. However, it is stressed repeatedly that these talks should not replace medical attention. They’re just providing basic first aid to calm the person down. Referring at-risk adolescents to appropriate adults is also covered in the book.

Books About Mental Illness for Teenagers
Books About Mental Illness for Teenagers

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health by Book Riot Editor Kelly Jensen

How much I want to rave about this book, but I don’t even know where to begin. After reading that, I realised how little I actually know about mental illness. I learned a lot about mental illness that I had never considered before. It got me thinking and motivated me to improve. This book, (Don’t) Call Me Crazy, is a compilation of essays written by young people who have dealt with mental health issues.

It’s edited by someone who frequents Book Riot, and it features work from other Book Rioters as well. Each article provides an authentic, original, and valuable perspective. Excellent supplementary material lists are provided at the end of some of the essays. I think this book is essential reading for anyone interested in learning more about mental health issues.

Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions, and Life Lessons by Dodie Clark

Dodie’s music and films on YouTube have a melancholy sweetness to them. Her collection of articles, lists, poetry, and images all convey the same sentiment. When it comes to her mental health, she bares all in Secrets for the Mad. Self-injury, emotional abuse in relationships, bisexuality, and despair and anxiety are among the topics discussed.

Create Your Own Calm: a Journal for Quieting Anxiety by Meera Lee Patel

For me, writing is a form of meditation. I was a teenager who spent a lot of time in the alphabet. When life became too much to handle, I would write for hours and emerge from the experience with a firmer grasp of the problem.

The guided visual journals that Meera Lee Patel makes are works of art. It’s relaxing just to browse through them and admire the watercolour artwork. When you couple it with the realisation that you can calm yourself by analysing your thoughts, you’ve found yourself a refuge. I found it helpful to write out my concerns when I was a teenager, and I hope you find the same relief.

Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson & Gemma Correll

If you want your teen to learn more about mental health, this book is a great resource. There’s a lot of warmth and humour in the way it explains complex ideas. Throughout the book, Gemma Correll includes cartoonish pictures that both make us smile and make the material seem more approachable. Dr Olivia Hewitt’s research on mental illness is addressed, and numerous helpful medical facts and recommendations are included.

It’s All Absolutely Fine: Life is Complicated, So I’ve Drawn It Instead by Ruby Elliot

This book is one you should keep an eye on since it contains dark, humorous, and honest cartoons about mental difficulties. In equal measures, it is heartbreaking and inspiring and hilarious. It’s loaded with pencil drawings that reveal the author’s struggles with mental health. Depression, bipolar disorder, and eating problems are just a few examples. You can cry and laugh out loud while reading this book.

The Time in Between: a Memoir of Hunger and Hope by Nancy Tucker

Nancy Tucker was quite young when she was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and admitted to the hospital. She had also gone through the complete opposite of what is considered “normal” for those with bulimia nervosa. During her ups and downs, she intermittently attended school and underwent counselling. She explains in great detail the terrible and difficult truth of her eating disorder in an effort to raise awareness of the problem.

Many of the reviews I read about this book commented on how upsetting it was to revisit painful memories. In case the reader has a history of anorexia or bulimia and is considering picking it up, please bear that in mind.

You should be aware of trigger warnings before reading any of the novels I’ve recommended above.

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