Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day here in Canada, a day where money is raised via social networking sites, text messages, and more to go towards various mental health-related initiatives across the country. So far, over $100,000,000 has been raised, and we wanted to do our part by showcasing some books that bring serious conversations about mental health to the forefront of our collective consciousness. Fiction, non-fiction, YA, and poetry alike, these books remind us that it’s okay to not be okay, and that we are never truly alone.
Break in Case of Emergency by Brian Francis
Life has been a struggle for Toby Goodman. Her mother died by suicide five years ago, and her father left their small town before Toby was born. Convinced that she is destined to follow her mother’s path, Toby creates a plan to escape her pain. But with the news that her father is coming home and finally wants to meet her, Toby must face the truth of her family’s story. Not only is her father gay, but he’s also a world-famous female impersonator—and a self-absorbed, temperamental man-child who is ill-prepared to be a real parent. When Toby’s careful plans go awry, she is forced to rebuild the life she thought she knew from the ground up.
Things No One Else Can Teach Us by Humble the Poet
In Things No One Else Can Teach Us, Humble the Poet goes against conventional wisdom for happiness and success, showing us how our most painful experiences can be our greatest teachers. Humble shares raw, honest stories from his own life—from his rocky start becoming a rapper to nearly going broke to battling racism—to demonstrate how we can change our minds to better our lives. From a breakup to losing a loved one, our hardest moments can help us flourish, but only if we seize the opportunity. While we can’t control life, we have the power to control how we react to it. Things No One Else Can Teach Us reminds us that we have the power to transform the way we respond to everyday challenges and ultimately be our best selves.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this beautiful book based on his famous quartet of characters. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse explores their unlikely friendship and the poignant, universal lessons they learn together. Radiant with Mackesy’s warmth and gentle wit, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse blends hand-written narrative with dozens of drawings, perfect for readers of The Alchemist, The Giving Tree, and The Tao of Pooh.
I’m Telling the Truth but I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi
In I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying Bassey Ikpi explores her life—as a Nigerian-American immigrant, a black woman, a slam poet, a mother, a daughter, an artist—through the lens of her mental health and diagnosis of bipolar II and anxiety. Her remarkable memoir in essays implodes our preconceptions of the mind and normalcy as Bassey bares her own truths and lies for us all to behold with radical honesty and brutal intimacy.
Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
Reasons to Stay Alive is both a wonderfully moving and upbeat account of how Matt Haig survived depression and anxiety, and an accessible, life-affirming guide to helping yourself—and others—through mental illness. When Matt became ill with panic disorder, anxiety and depression, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet shares his journey back to happiness and all of the lessons that Matt learned along the way.
everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by jomny sun
everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too is the illustrated story of a lonely alien sent to observe Earth, only to meet all sorts of creatures with all sorts of perspectives on life, love, and happiness, all while learning to feel a little better about being an alien—based on the enormously popular Twitter account, @jonnysun. Through this story of a lost, lonely and confused alien finding friendship, acceptance, and love among the creatures of Earth, we will all learn how to be a little more human. And for all of us earth-bound creatures here on this planet, we can all be reminded that sometimes, it takes an outsider to help us see ourselves for who we truly are.
Project Semicolon by Amy Bleuel
Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over reveals dozens of new portraits and stories from people of all ages talking about what they have endured and what they want for their futures. This represents a new step in the movement and a new awareness around those who struggle with mental illness and those who support them. At once heartfelt, unflinchingly honest, and eternally hopeful, this collection tells a story of choice: every day you choose to live and let your story continue on.
When the World Didn’t End by Caroline Kaufman
When the World Didn’t End is a vivid account of trying to find a path forward while reckoning with the pain of the past, embracing imperfection, and unlearning the language of self-criticism. It’s an ode to the awkward silence between goodbye and hanging up, to hearts that continue to beat after they’re broken, to the empty spaces that depression leaves behind. With vulnerability and insight, this powerful collection of short poems holds up a mirror to the doubt and longing inside us all.
My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach
A story of the fragility of the mind, and the tenacity of the human spirit, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is, above all, a love story that raises profound questions: How do we care for the people we love? What and who do we live for? Breathtaking in its candor, radiant with compassion, and written with dazzling lyricism, Lukach’s is an intensely personal odyssey through the harrowing years of his wife’s mental illness, anchored by an abiding devotion to family that will affirm readers’ faith in the power of love.
Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness
Over the Top uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-love and acceptance that Jonathan is today. In this revelatory, raw, and rambunctious memoir, Jonathan shares never-before-told secrets and reveals sides of himself that the public has never seen. JVN fans may think they know the man behind the stiletto heels, the crop tops, and the iconic sayings, but there’s much more to him than meets the Queer Eye.
To keep the conversation going, we want to know: What are your favourite books that depict mental health and illness in a positive light? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SavvyReader!
Seeking help is never something to be afraid or ashamed of. If you are struggling and need someone to talk to, here are a few resources that are available to help:
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
- Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention
- Centre for Suicide Prevention
- The LifeLine Suicide Prevention and Awareness App