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Mental Health in YA Literature

I recently finished my latest book, Starvation, which is about a teenage wrestler with an eating disorder. There were multiple reasons for writing the book. For one, one of my high school friends struggled with an eating disorder and hearing how hard her recovery was made me start looking into the process. Additionally, I am studying neuroscience and clinical psychology to go into the field so what better than to create a book with my two loves, writing and mental health. This fall I will be co-president of my school’s mental health advocacy group which has made me realize the importance of making mental health information available in different forms, especially for younger readers who may not even know they have a mental illness until they read about someone going through something similar.

In my clinical psych class I was astounded to learn that boys make up 1:9 to 1:3 of anorexia patients. And still I have yet to find a YA book about a boy with anorexia. (I am, however, pleasantly surprised by the recent increase in mental health books, with both male and female protagonists, especially as it helps destigmatize disorders and start important conversations.)

On that note, here are some books that are consistently referenced as some of the best YA mental health books, that are said to accurately describe what it feels like to have the given disorder. I, personally had some issues with some of the books, but loved others. Wintergirls, for example, really helped me understand some of the thought processes behind anorexia. Also It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Will Grayson, Will Grayson are two of my favorites. (But check them out for yourself and comment your opinions below!)


Turtles All the Way Down

Finding Audrey – social anxiety

Every Last Word – OCD

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B – OCD

Highly Illogical Behavior – agoraphobia

Eating disorders


The Downside of Being Charlie




The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Sea of Tranquility


It’s Kind of a Funny Story

The Memory of Light

13 Reasons Why

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

All the Bright Places

Fans of the Impossible Life

Hold Still


When We Collided



A World Without You


Made You Up


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