At some points in your reading experience, you might have stumbled upon at least one or two books about mental health issues. My first experience with it was when I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It was okay but I honestly had NO IDEA what it was about. It was too unconventional and being the little young reader that I was, I couldn’t relate or even understand the essence of the story. You could say that it wasn’t something I wanted to read twice.
So after that, I stayed out of books about mental health issues.
It wasn’t until recently that I finally pushed myself to read more about it. As you may have known, I’m a psychology student. I study about mental health and it would make me a lousy psychology student to not be able to read books about it. So after some research on Goodreads, I picked up several books and I surprisingly LOVED them! ♥
What is it?
According to the DSM V, mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning.
In case you didn’t notice the words I highlighted, mental disorder is a dysfunction in psychological, biological, and developmental process. It is also caused by a clinically significant disturbance, so yes, it is a medical condition. It is in your head, but most of the time, it isn’t something that you can just ‘get over with’. It’s something real and serious.
Why do we need to read books about mental health issues?
Mental disorder is an international issue, it’s happening every where right at this moment. For those who suffers from mental disorders, reading a book about it could help them feel understood. There was a man with depression who never talked about his condition for 30 years and the first time he ever talked about it was through quoting a book about depression.
For those of us who don’t suffer from it, reading would help us understand how it feels to live with mental disorders. Books help us to make sense of the world and they shift our perspectives. People with mental disorders are so often stigmatized and for me, reading a book in which the characters suffer from mental disorders helps me understand at least a little bit of their struggles. It makes me less judgmental and more emphatic towards them. It helps that it’s also educating, if only the writers did their research right.
Some things to consider
Accuracy of the Symptoms
This has been my first and main concern when it comes to books about mental illness. To my delight, a lot of books have portrayed symptoms that are so close to the truth. It’s Kind of A Funny Story is based on the author’s personal experience so no wonder it resembles the truth so much. All the Bright Places also portrays some pretty accurate symptoms of bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. This book would be so much better if only we could see more of Finch’s feeling when he’s depressed. It would really explain the WHOLE thing.
Though I admit, there are a lot of books with unclear and somewhat inaccurate symptoms. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and Saving Francesca are too absurd while Thirteen Reasons Why is too brutal and sends a twisted message to the readers. I didn’t even realize Looking for Alaska was about mental illness until probably the very last part of the books. I thought Alaska was just being weird like Margo.
Role of therapist
The role of therapist in young adult fiction with mental illness is so UNDERRATED. Therapy session is so often portrayed as useless and therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist seem to be asking a lot of stupid and useless questions. It is completely and extremely OFFENSIVE for me. Let me tell you something.
I spent an entire term practicing how to be a counselor in class and those therapists have logged on hundreds hours of counselling sessions before they even got their licenses. There are rules and techniques for listening, questioning, paraphrasing, and making conclusion. So yes, all our questions are carefully thought and saying that we ‘always ask stupid questions’ is SO insulting.
Mental illness magically cured by love
No. Just NO. Mental illness is a medical and psychological condition that can’t be magically cured by a lover. Not everything is about romance, especially these real and sensitive issues. Maybe love heals but SO DOES THERAPY. I’m so mad someone should seriously stop this bullshit.
My TBR List
Honestly, there are still TONS of books about mental illness that I haven’t read. I’m ashamed of myself, but I’m really trying to catch up! Here are some of the books on my TBR list. I heard they’re awesome! ♦
What about you, got any thoughts on this matter? Or any recommendations for us readers? I’d love to know your thoughts so let me know and drop some comments! ♥ Also, share to your friends and click to tweet! P.S… Happy Ied Mubarak for those who celebrate!
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