Relatable Young Adult Novels For Your Teen With Mental Health Problems

According to the World Health Organization, 40% of teenagers around the globe battle with at least one mental illness. These neuropsychological disorders can severely affect an individual’s quality of life and can be more debilitating to a teenager who is still growing and developing.

Mental health professionals recommend finding legitimate sources to learn more about mental disorders. Not many openly talk about mental problems; hence, many people turn to novels.


Diving Into The Young Adult Literature

Books fall under several genres. These include young adult fiction, which is primarily for teens aged 12 to 18. While this genre is considered fiction, its realistic, coming-of-age setting has undoubtedly appealed to the masses; even adults grew to love it.

Young adult literature provides a slice of life, dashed with a little fantasy, making it very relatable. As years go by, more authors start to tackle stigmatized topics such as mental health, racism, and gender orientation.

In particular, books exploring psychological issues are increasing, to which struggling teenagers can relate. These books also help them acknowledge that having a mental disorder is not necessarily a bad thing. Through this, they realize there are people in the same boat as they are, who are willing to support them on their road to recovery.

With the wide variety of young adult novels available for reading, here are a few recommended books to read about different mental health disorders:

Recommendations For Mood Disorders

Anxiety and depression are the most common psychological illnesses present in teens. Both disorders have symptoms of frequent low moods, loss of interest in many things, anxiousness, and fear.

  • Turtles All The Way Down

Written by one of New York’s best-selling YA author, John Green, Turtles All The Way Down follows the life of a 16-year-old girl. Aza, the protagonist, is your typical teenager whose thoughts are always in shambles, so much that she starts developing severe anxiety.

Partnered with a slight case of mystery, join Aza in her battle to discover how she can live her life normally despite her conditions.

  • Fangirl

Cath is the central character of this book written by Rainbow Rowell. Since birth, she has always depended on her twin sister. Unfortunately, they had to go their separate ways in college, leaving Cath unsure of her path and questioning herself if she could make it without her twin.

Fangirl is an exciting read, shining a light on awkward, introverted individuals who are trying their best to socialize and learn how to move past their safety bubble.

  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Telling the story of Leonard Peacock, who is at the very edge of his mental breakdown, this book by Matthew Quick points out the realities of mental illnesses when ignored and left untreated. It is an intriguing read to see how Leonard succumbs to his violent thoughts and what their repercussions could look like in real life.

Recommendations For Autism Spectrum Disorders

Mental disorders do not necessarily involve emotions only. Neurodevelopmental conditions, such as autism, are also classified under the category. These disorders often develop in childhood and may even impair how an individual functions in society.

  • The Rosie Project

Graeme Simsion’s novel unfolds the life of a brilliant and high-functioning professor struggling with Asperger’s syndrome. Don Tillman, the said professor and also lead character, embarks on finding love despite his condition. It is a book that is positively conveying that even people with mental illnesses find love.

  • Remember Dippy

This book shows the forging of friendships between a unique individual and a “normal” teen. When Shirley Reva Vernick wrote this, she made sure to explore how similar “odd” and “normal” teens are. It is a great read to understand that everyone around us functions the same; some need a little help, that’s all.

  • Anything But Typical

The life of Jason Blake, who has autism, has many twists and turns, as written by Nora Raleigh Baskin. This book is for anyone who wishes to see a perspective on how mentally-challenged people live day-to-day.

Addressing Mental Health Problems Through YA


There have been countless studies discussing the effectiveness of young adult literature in confronting mental illnesses. While it is true that the genre falls under fiction, the representation of life’s realities, including mental health problems, challenge everyone to discuss the stigmas surrounding the topics openly.

Fortunately, the availability of young adult literature has increased over the years, as the numbers of teens who have psychological disorders are also alarmingly growing. With YA books, their stories are shed to light. For once in their lives, they become represented and are given the support that they need. 

Books have the power, and, for many teens, they save lives. I guess it is true that the pen is mightier than the sword.