May, among other things, is Mental Health Awareness Month—so this is a great time to discuss and reduce the stigma around mental illness. Millions of people in the United States and around the world cope with depression, anxiety, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and other issues. Luckily, there are resources available to help. One great way to understand what someone with mental illness might be facing is to read and become empathetic to their struggles. Here are some of my recent favorite explorations of and conversations around mental health – especially in young adults.
(Don't) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health edited by Kelly Jensen
What does it mean to be crazy? Is using the word crazy offensive? What happens when such a label gets attached to your everyday experiences? In order to understand mental health, we need to talk openly about it. Because there’s no single definition of crazy, there’s no single experience that embodies it, and the word itself means different things—wild? extreme? disturbed? passionate?—to different people. This book is a conversation starter and guide to better understanding how our mental health affects us every day. Thirty-three writers, athletes, and artists offer essays, lists, comics, and illustrations that explore their personal experiences with mental illness, how we do and do not talk about mental health, help for better understanding how every person’s brain is wired differently, and what, exactly, might make someone "crazy".
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Alex fights a daily battle to figure out what is real and what is not. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8 Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She's pretty optimistic about her chances until she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She's not prepared for normal. Can she trust herself? Can we trust her?
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B by Teresa Toten
Adam Spencer Ross is almost fifteen, and he’s got his hands full confronting the problems that come with having divorced parents and new stepsiblings. Add to that his obsessive-compulsive disorder and it’s just about impossible for him to imagine ever falling in love. Adam’s life changes, however, the instant he meets Robyn Plummer: he is hopelessly, desperately drawn to her. But is it possible to have a normal relationship when your life is anything but? Filled with moments of deep emotion and unexpected humor, this book explores the complexities of living with OCD and offers the prospect of hope, happiness, and healing.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about taking the best care of your mental health, check out some of these resources available online:
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
Online mental health resources for adolescents and young adults
Mindfulness for Teens
Resources on mindfulness techniques developed by Dzung X. Vo, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at British Columbia Children’s Hospital, and clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, Canada.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
Department of Behavioral Health
Finally, the City of Philadelphia will host free mental health events promoting mental wellness throughout the month of May.