May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is often seen as a taboo subject. Many people are too afraid to speak up because of the ever-present stigma surrounding it. Did you know that one in four people are affected by mental illness? We would just like to say that you are not alone. Most people carry a burden on their shoulders thinking that they have to suffer through their mental illnesses alone. Trust me, that isn’t the case.

We are lucky to live in a world where there are hundreds of books for all ages that break down that stigma. Here are my top favorite stories about mental health.

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

I am so thankful for Kathleen Glasgow. In each of her books, she teaches us how to save ourselves in the worst moments. This book is so raw that it sent me on a roller coaster of emotions. Glasgow is the type of author that can fully take you outside your own body and place you in a story so vivid that every word feels like the gut-wrenching truth of your own life. Ten out of ten recommend this young adult novel to anyone struggling to find their importance in the world. I hope this novel gives you a little hope as it did me.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

I cannot describe how much this book means to me. I read it first when I was 12 years old. I read it again when I was 18. Both times I related to the main character but in completely different ways. It’s Kind of a Funny Story isn’t sappy, glossy, or super romantic. It isn’t lighthearted, wholesome, or sugary. This book is so real in the way that it makes the reader almost uncomfortable. But in a good way. We shouldn’t feel uncomfortable talking about mental illness. A lot of media these days portrays mental illness in a glamorous way that is so far from the truth. Ned Vizzini’s book, however, offers a realistic representation of what depression actually feels like.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down is the type of novel that sticks with you even after you are done reading the book. The story is unforgettable and (like in all of his books) John Green knows exactly how to hit you. Hard. Green teaches us that despite a mental illness like anxiety or OCD, you will always have ups, downs, and there is always going to be beauty and meaning in the world. We learn the importance of friendships and keeping those we love close to us. Turtles All the Way Down goes to the top of my list of recommended reads.

Mental health can be a very difficult thing to talk about and I am so glad that we have authors who understand what it means to be living through anxiety, depression and many more mental illnesses. These books are just the start of getting through the stigmas surrounding these topics. We would just like to remind you of how important you are to the world.