Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What More I'd Like to See in Mental Health Books

I am loving the amount of books have come out/will be coming out that have some kind of mental health aspect. I think the more MH books are written, and the more mental illness is discussed openly, it'll help fight the negative stigmas. It'll give people more understanding and sympathy, as well educate those who would like to learn more about them. It's especially great that there are lovely YA books with a mental health aspect, so they can reach those teenagers who need them for themselves or others in their lives. And while I have loved some truly wonderful books, I think we can definitely do better and these are some of the things I'd like to see more of in mental health stories!

1. More therapy-positive books! I remember a sociology professor of mine once told me that he thought everyone should be in therapy from the time they are kids. And I did kind of agree with him, because I think it's something that should be way more normal than it is. I mean, people go to therapists for a number of reasons; it's not just for those with a mental illness. And not only therapy books, but positive ones! I know that there are shitty therapists, but I'm tired of reading about those ones! And I feel like, if you're writing about mental illness, you should be way more conscience of how you're showing it. Keep it real, but also maybe don't turn people off from therapy more than they already are? ESPECIALLY when you're writing YA! (Lookin' at you, 100 Days of Cake). It's hard for a lot of people to accept help, to say that they need it, so I'm pretty tired of the mental health books that make it worse. I KNOW that this might mean less realism since there are shitty therapists, but I'd rather have positive ones as well as books that show therapy as a good and normal/healthy part of life (like the Addicted/Calloway Sisters series).

2. Also more medication-positive books. Medication isn't for everyone, and that's okay. But I think it, more than therapy, is more negatively stigmatized. You can't see your illness; it's not like a broken leg. People are less likely to consider it just as real and serious, and in turn, view medication as unnecessary. But sometimes, it is! And sometimes, it is what people need. So I'd really love to see more books with medication as, for lack of a better term, normal.

3. More books with lesser known mental illnesses. Personality disorders, especially, since I feel as if they are not as talked about in not only psychology, but in life. As well as so many more that I found on this great list of disorders currently recognized in the DSM. Have you heard of half of these? Neither have I! And I'm a psychology major. :p (Granted I should know more of them, but that was a lot of information jammed down my throat during four years of college, and I can't remember SO MUCH). ANYWAY. I want to see more of these disorders highlighted in books!

4. More books with mental illness as ONE aspect of life. What I mean by that is more books that aren't just about the mental illness but about the main character's life as a whole. Honestly, in most of my favorite MH books, this isn't a big deal. Except for Play On, I think, the books didn't have the one focus be on mental health. And I liked that! It's inspiring to see characters with a mental illness who have not only accepted it, but whose lives are not just about it. I of course appreciate books where a character is struggling/has just found out/needs to come to terms with it. But I think books where mental illness isn't just the ~issue~ but a part of them and their lives, are needed too.

5. More books with strong support systems. tbh, I always want more books with main characters who have strong relationships with the people in their lives. Friends, family, significant others, whoever. But I think it's something that is absolutely needed in MH books. I'm someone who believes that you can't truly help someone unless they want to be helped, so I don't want books where "love cures all" is the message (and I think some unconsciously do that). Though I think support systems are so wonderful, it can't cure everything. But it sure as hell makes life easier and more fun, and I love books that show this really well.

I feel like I should have more on this list, but I'm trying to come up with things, and am drawing a blank! My biggest want is definitely more books with therapy, as well as ones with medication as a positive thing. And ones with support systems! Since I haven't read as many books with a mental health aspect as I thought, I'm definitely making them more a priority, especially so I can recommend the great ones. :)

*****

And y'all don't forget to enter the giveaway and be sure to check out Inge'sShannon'sTopaz's, and Erica's blogs for more Shattering Stigmas posts! :)