Mental Illness in YA

AP PSYCH EXAM TODAY*sobs* so for today’s post I did mental illness. I spent most of this year waiting to get to mental illness, only for us to blow right by them.

I haven’t seen many mental illnesses in YA but I don’t generally read the types of books that would have them.

In the brief time we studied mental illnesses I read about some which I attempted to imagine in a YA setting and I am now here to share some of the one’s I’d like to see in YA.

  • Depression
    • I’m sure I wouldn’t have to look hard to find a YA book with Depression. It is one of the most common of mental illnesses (the textbook calls it the “common cold” of mental illnesses). However, it is one which constantly plagues people, especially teenagers.
  • Anxiety
    • Anxiety has different forms it can take and different levels of severity. I remember that PTSD is technically a type of anxiety. It would be interesting to see it more often in YA as it is something else that seems rather common among the high school and college population.
    • Similarly, anxiety is often made light of when it is awful. Anxiety attacks are hardcore and painful to live through.
  • OCD
    • This is another which I find is often made light of. People often look past the part of it that is compulsive. In their obsession, they don’t usually have a choice, it has to be the way it is, they have to do it. It’s terrifying.
  • Autism
    • Once again there are varying levels of autism and I think there’s a common misconception about children with autism. Like other unseen illnesses most of the time, no one would recognize a person with autism unless it were severe.
  • An anti-social personality disorder
    • I feel like this would be the most difficult and concerning of the bunch. These are things such as sociopaths and psychopaths and it would be so strange because it is a personality disorder and they’re that way. There isn’t much in the way of reversing it.
  • Schizophrenia
    • This is another one which seems drastic when it isn’t always. We spent nearly an entire class on this illness and honestly it’s one of the ones which interests me the most. Most of the hallucinations are auditory and most are able to lead normal lives.
    • However, it is still a drastic illness and it would be VERY interesting to see it portrayed in a YA novel.

And that concludes the illness I’d be interested seeing in YA.

To be honested I’d actually like to see a whole host of mental illnesses but these are the ones we JUST studied!

Hopefully there are some questions about them on the AP exam today *bites nails*.

Have you ever read a book with any of these illnesses? What are some mental illnesses you’d like to see portrayed in YA? 

Peace and love. Wish me luck.

-Kit Cat


5 thoughts on “Mental Illness in YA

  1. As a psychology student I can say that mental illness is not something that you will spend much in-depth time on. It’s all about what causes them and what we can to to prevent them/help people with those illnesses. The illnesses themselves are listed in the DSM and are diagnosed according to symptoms so many don’t see the need for teaching them.

    As for mental illness in YA, Underwater by Marisa Reichardt is a great one that deals with agoraphobia and, to some extent, PTSD.
    The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich is an all out psychological thriller that has depression and MPD. (And many, many doctors doing every unethical thing they can think of)
    The Problem With Forever (Bordering YA/NA) by Jennifer L Armentrout has selective mutism and PTSD, which seems pretty popular when you consider Tris and Katniss and most revolutionary females.
    There’s another JLA one called Don’t Look Back that has memory loss, anxiety, depression, changed personality due to the memory loss.
    Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaria.
    My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga.
    I seem to attract these books.

    Like you I would like to see an accurate depiction of the varying levels of schizophrenia. It’s not always as severe as can be shown in tv shows or movies and that needs to be understood by people who aren’t going to spend years studying psychology.
    More talking about mental illness in general is needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally agree with Saarantrai. I’d like to read more about mental illnesses, but I’m also a little scared to. I have depression and it’s too easy to get caught in a spiral or trigger it. When We Collided by Emery Lord is about two teens with depression, so I think I’ll check that one out, but I’m a little wary. But we DO need more mental illness representation in YA, and a lot would be interesting and eye-opening to read.


  3. I would love to see these, too ❤ Honestly, there aren't enough books out there in the YA world that explore these topics. Depression is really hard hitting in Courtney Summers' novels, especially All the Rage and This is Not A Test (some of my favorite books in existence).

    Also, I just read Whisper to Me, which is about Schizophrenia and it was wonderful. Another good book, though it's not the main focus of the novel, is The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong.

    Liked by 1 person

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