Thoughts on Mental Illness in YA literature.

Thoughts on Mental Illness in YA literature.


  • The portrayal that all characters with a mental illness are normal and hum deep down. Their issues don’t smother them, they still have interests and realtionships with others.
  • Most of the endings end in a way that they seem reassuring and sensible (it gives the reader hope if they themselves are sufferers.
  • Family reactions and difficulties to the illness are scarily accurate in my opinion.


  • Often authors focus on the extremes of mental illness. Gives readers the idea that struggles are only valid if they are extreme. In my opinion this is an unhealthy idea hold.
  • YA only focuses on the most common mental health issues (more complex illnesses are ignored). I think we are missing a key opportunity to educate young adults on mental health.
  • Male characters are often made to seem attractive and ‘sexy’ because of their mental illness (it makes them seem mysterious and darkly handsome) this is not healthy.
  • Eating disorders are shown in ways that portray the character as angelic and pure (this is one of the main reasons that eating disorders are ‘fashionable’ and it makes me so angry).
  • EDNOS and Binge Eating Disorder get absolutely no attention (links to the first point in this section).
  • Suicidal female characters are often shown to be fashionable and are frequently sexualised. This aids the negative stereotype that all suicidal teenagers are reckless and attractive.


  • Hurt by Tabatha Suzuma
  • Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (HIGHLY TRIGGERING)
  • All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Not the best representation but good writing)

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