Learning Through Fiction

The experience and reality of mental health and the stigma surrounding it is becoming an increasingly popular topic to broach through works of fiction. Today on the blog Megan has pulled together a summary of some novels that tackle these topics.



With mental health being talked about more and more every day copious amounts of authors are choosing to incorporate mental health related issues into their novels in an effort to spread awareness and eradicate surrounding stigmas. So if you’re like me and cannot resist a heart wrenching, thought provoking novel look no further! I have searched the depths of the internet and the forgotten shelves of the public library to compile a list of the top 10 fictitious books tackling the stigma of mental disorders.


All The Bright Placesallthebrightplaces

Jennifer Niven

This book follows the story of two 17 years olds, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. When they meet on top of the school bell tower, Violet and Finch start their unlikely friendship whilst completing a project for their U.S Geography class. Together, they tackle their journeys from teens to adults whilst dealing with other issues life throws at them.

Topics in this book: Grief, suicide, depression, physical abuse, bullying, bipolar disorder



A Quiet Kind of Thunderaquietkindofthunder

Sara Barnard. 

This story follows a 17 – year – old named Steffi; a selective mute for most of her life, and most recently diagnosed with severe social anxiety. When a new, deaf student joins the school Steffi is recruited to show him around, being the only student able to communicate using British Sign Language. With this new found way of communicating, a romance begins to blossom as Steffi continues on her life journey.

Topics in this book: Selective mutism, deafness, social anxiety



flowersforalgernonFlowers for Algernon

Daniel Keyes

Charlie, a man with learning difficulties and an unusually low IQ undergoes an experimental surgery which is supposed to make him intelligent. Post-surgery, Charlie seems no smarter than he was, being surpassed in maze races by Algernon, a mouse who underwent the same surgery. With time however, Charlie’s intelligence improves. The story follows Charlie’s experiences in dealing with his new found intelligence, and the changes in his life which this brings.

Topics in this book: ‘Intellectual disability’, identity, mistreatment of individuals with intellectual difficulties



Made You Upmadeupbyyou

Francesca Zappia

Alex, a girl starting her senior year at high school, struggles to distinguish between reality and hallucinations whilst dealing with her diagnosis of Schizophrenia. Alex continues to struggle with her illness, too terrified to tell her parents about the hallucinations through fear that they will lock her up in a psychiatric ward. Then she meets Miles, who teaches her how to trust.

Topics in this book: schizophrenia, paranoia, parental stigma, social exclusion




Patricia McCormick

This story follows Callie, a young girl who struggles with self-harm. She gets sent to an inpatient treatment facility in an attempt to help her deal with her issues but this causes Callie to crawl deeper into her shell. In this facility she meets other girls suffering with their own problems such as eating disorders, anger issues, and others who self-harm. We experience Callie’s thoughts and emotions during this time, as she opens up to counsellors, peers, and family.

Topics in this book: self-harm, addiction, eating disorders, inpatient care




Laurie Halse Anderson

Lia, an anorexia sufferer, and her best friend Cassie, a bulimia sufferer, are in constant competition with each other to be thinner than the other. But when Cassie is found dead in a motel room Lia is left to deal not only with anorexia, but the grief and guilt surrounding her best friend’s death. The details of her death are yet to be released, leading Lia on a downwards spiral as she tries to find out if Cassie could have been saved.

Topics in this book: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, grief, self-harm



itskindoffunnystoryIt’s Kind of a Funny Story

Ned Vizzini 

This story follows a teenager, Craig, living in New York who wants nothing else but to succeed in life. When he is accepted into a top high school, the pressure becomes too much causing him to spiral. He stops sleeping and eating and gradually gets worse, until one night he almost kills himself. In an attempt to control his emotions he checks into a mental hospital where he meets several teens experiencing similar things, and finally starts to overcome his mental health. Sadly in 2013 Ned Vizzini took his own life, making this novel even more powerful.

Topics in this book: suicide, transsexuality, addiction, self-harm


everylastwordEvery Last Word

Tamara Ireland Stone 

This book follows the life of high school student Samantha who is secretly suffering from Purely Obsessional Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Whilst being a part of one of the most popular groups in school, Samantha struggles to balance acting in the right way to avoid being ridiculed by her friends with her obsessional thoughts and her weekly psychiatrist meetings. Then she meets Caroline. Caroline introduces Samantha to a new group of people; misfits, outcasts and individuals who are ignored by the school at large. Samantha starts to feel almost “normal” again, but only for a short amount of time until she has to deal with new issues, causing her to spiral out of control.

Topics in this book: OCD, anxiety, social exclusion

Both of Me

Jonathon Friesen bothofme

When Clara is on a flight escaping from the secrets of her past she meets Elias; a mysterious boy who seems to know more about Clara than she knows about herself. When her hand luggage is mistakenly switched for Elias’ identical bag, Clara uses the luggage tag to track down her missing items. But she doesn’t find mysterious Elias from the flight, she finds Salem Elias, a second Elias who doesn’t remember meeting Clara at all. Clara sets it as her mission to find out how Elias knows about her past, her secrets, her fears, whilst discovering and learning about Dissociative Identify Disorder and its effect on their lives.

Topics in this book: Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder), friendship, self-discovery


My Heart and other Black Holes

Jasmine Wanga myheart

Aysel is suicidal but scared. She doesn’t want to do it alone. With her mother being unable to look at her without wincing, her violent father being guilty of a horrific crime and her classmates talking behind her back, Aysel has had enough. She discovers a website called Suicide Partners; a website for people too scared or nervous to do it alone. This is where she meets FrozenBot, a teen boy called Roman who is also looking for a partner. As their friendship grows Aysel starts to question whether she still wants to go through with the suicide pact she has made with Roman, leaving her with a heavy decision to make. Either die with Roman, or try and convince him to live.

Topics in this book: suicide, friendship, abuse, bullying




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