Mental Health in YA Books (Blogger Roundup)

Mental health representation in young adult literature is extremely important but not as important as getting it done the right way.

Thanks to Anna, she gathered up a bunch of bloggers (including moi) to talk about YA books with great mental health rep! Thank you so much, Anna, for allowing me to be part of this roundup. <3 Shall we get started?

Young Adult Books With Great Mental Health Representation

Anna @ annaish - Girl Against the Universe

When it comes to mental health, YA books tend to romanticize, cure, or isolate a mentally ill character. It’s frustrating, insulting, and misleading because those tropes don’t happen in real life. Thankfully, we do have YA books who don't fall into those tropes and one of those books is Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes.

The book follows Maguire, a girl who has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and is on the path of recovery. For starters, her path of recovery isn’t romanticized. The book highlights her good and bad days. Maguire isn’t cured or isolated either. She goes to therapy and has loving support from family/friends. And, probably the best part about this book is, Maguire’s mental illness isn't her only personality trait. She’s spunky, sarcastic, and a fantastic narrator. I could talk about Girl Against the Universe all day long but I'll leave you with this, mental illnesses exists and more YA books need to talk about it.

Kenzie (MEEEE) - Turtles All The Way Down

There has always been a bit of controversy when it comes to the topic of John Green’s writing, but when I heard that he was working on a book about mental illness, I knew he would nail it. Aza is the main character in this story and she suffers from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) which is also related to anxiety. Rarely do I ever see anxiety discussed in Young Adult literature and to find a book that describes it PERFECTLY feels like a phenomenon. Even though everyone experiences anxiety, it still seems there is a stigma towards it. With Turtles All The Way Down, you feel as though your soul has been ripped open and there is finally someone who understands you.

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening. Infinitely.”

Aza is a great character. She is different from most female characters in the YA world, and what I loved most about this story was how real and raw it was. Whether you love YA or dislike it, everyone needs to read this book. It is an excellent representation of mental health, especially in young adult literature.

Emily @ Paperback Princess - Top Ten

When Anna asked me to choose a novel I thought had the best mental health representation, my mind immediately went to Top Ten by: Katie Cotugno. This YA novel features the main female protagonist, Gabby, going through high school with intense anxiety and agoraphobia, making her very shy and nervous when it comes to the overbearing parties her classmates throw. Gabby’s best friend is an extroverted star hockey player named Ryan, one of the most popular guys in school. However, what makes this book so awesome, is that Ryan doesn’t “save Gabby” from her mental illness. Instead, through their unlikely friendship, he encourages and supports her and the two remain good friends throughout the entire book. I loved this novel not just because I could relate heavily to Gabby, but also because it didn’t have to feature the trope that the guy and the girl must fall in love and suddenly all her fears are whisked away. It was refreshing to see Gabby and Ryan remain strictly friends and how Ryan learnt how to support Gabby during her panic attacks. This book made me wish I had a friendship like they had in high school.

Abby @ Ups and Downs - Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappos is one of my favorite books for its portrayal of social anxiety. For those unfamiliar with its plot, the book follows a girl named Eliza Murk with a famous web comic named Monstrous Sea who keeps this part of her life private. I loved to this book in many ways— the way it portrayed social anxiety and its relationship to how the protagonist connects on the digital world, the injection of art pieces showing Eliza’s comic, and her struggle towards opening up to her friend Wallace, who is also one of the most popular fan fiction writers of the comic. However relatable the character is, the book does get heavy fast, but it does so with an acknowledged nuance and understanding.

Tasya @ The Literary Huntress - Every Last Word

This book is one of the most underrated book out there. Every Last Word is a sweet and calm, but sad story about Sam, who has pure O-OCD. This book addresses the common misconception of all OCD people are obsessed with cleaning and tidying things up and tell Sam's story in such a way that make us empathized with her. The depth of the author research is shown with Sam's portrayal, it doesn't feel stereotypical or shallow, she felt like a real person. Another thing that I love is how supportive Sam's family and friends are and how positive her relationship with her psychiatrist is. She's open and always tell the psychiatrist about everything, she actively participating instead of raging and closing off, which is a great message. This is a really poignant and heartfelt book, and I wish more people read it!


What are some books that YOU think is a great rep for mental health in YA? Which one was your favorite and why? Have you read any of the books mentioned above? Let me know! 

If anyone ever needs to talk (about anything or nothing) you can contact me through my contact page or shoot me a DM via instagram and I will try my best to reply ASAP. :) You can also contact @thelxvelies through instagram as well! It is an account I own with five other girls who want to help spread positivity and happiness, and to let you know that you are NOT alone.   

xx Kenzie

Emotional Support Hotlines 

note: The main goal for these hotlines are to help prevent suicide but they will take anyone with any type of emotional crisis. A majority of these hotlines also offer SMS. Sorry if I missed your country, click HEREHERE, or HERE to find it.

(US) 1-800-273-8255 | National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(US) 1-888-628-9454 | Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio
(US) 919-231-4525 | Hopeline
(US) 1-866-488-7386 | The Trevor Project
(US) 877-565-8860 | Trans Lifeline

(UK) 116 123 | Samaritans
(UK) 0800 068 41 41 | HopelineUK - Papyrus

(CANADA) 877-330-6366 | Trans Lifeline
(CANADA) 1-800-668-686 | Kids Help Phone
(CANADA) 1 866 277-3553 | Suicide Action Montréal

(AUS) 13 11 14 | Lifeline Australia
(AUS) 1800 55 1800 | Kids Helpline
(AUS) 1300 22 4636 | beyondblue

(CHINA) (021) 6279 8990 | Lifeline Shanghai

(RUSSIA) (7) 0942 224 621 | Youth Crisis Line

(MEXICO) (55) 5259-8121 | Saptel

(THE PHILIPPINES) (02) 804-HOPE (4673) | The Natasha Goulbourn Foundation

(NEW ZEALAND) 1737 | 1737, need to talk?

(SOUTH AFRICA) 0861 322 322 | Lifeline
(SOUTH AFRICA) 021 712 6699 | The Triangle Project

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10 happy thoughts

  1. Lovely photos, Kenzie! Thanks again for joining the roundup. <3

    anna | annaish

    1. Thank YOU for having me, Anna. <3 I can't wait to do this again! :)

      xx Kenzie

  2. Replies
    1. Even though I haven't read all of them, I know for sure they are super cool! ;) Thanks for reading!

      xx Kenzie

  3. Great roundup! I have a few of these on my TBR and will have to check them out at my library.

    Micaiah @ Notebooks and Novels

    1. Thank you so much! I really do hope you check them out and let me know how you like them! :) Thanks so much for reading. <3

      xx Kenzie

  4. I love these recs! I'm definitely going to check them out: I don't read as many rep books as I should (speaking of which, I read All the Bright Places the other day and is also a really good one--was sobbing through the end) and am always looking for books to widen my reading!

    (Also Turtles All the Way Down is one of my favorite contemps ever!!!)

    1. YAYYYY!! YESSSS, I LOVE ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES! <3 The reason why I didn't pick it for my book choice is because it has so much controversy on it and I wanted to choose a book that hasn't really been talked about... but All The Bright Places was a flipping good book. <3 It wasn't until I read that it was a semi-true story when I started crying.

      EEEP, we definitely share similar book tastes! Let me know if you ever need recs or if you just want to book chat. I'm always up for that. ;) Thank you so much for reading!

      xx Kenzie

  5. Wow! Kenzie, this post is such a blessing, really. I really want to read more books that have accurate representations of people who struggle with their mental health, but I feel like it is such a small portion fiction. All of these books sound amazing, and I really do want to read about people that do have positive relationships with their therapists and aren't defined solely by the state of their mental health. Adding these books to my TBR ASAP...

    1. I think I may cry... Thank you so much for your kind words and I am so, so thrilled that this post has inspired you to check these books out. Everyone struggles in their own way so it is hard to find something that feels accurate. I can't wait to hear what you think of them! :)

      Thank you so much for reading!

      xx Kenzie


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, it truly means a lot to me. I try my best to respond to each and every one of them, so come back and let's have a conversation.

xx Kenzie