The best mental health novels gives abundant insight into psychological issues people face. These novels help provide a better understanding of mental health problems with loads of edutainment to boot.
Here’s a list of top mental health novels every reader can enjoy, regardless of their age.
- 0.1 A World without You – Beth Revis
- 0.2 Darius the Great Is Not Okay – Adib Khorram
- 0.3 Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
- 0.4 Freshwater – Akwaeke Emezi
- 0.5 Girl in Pieces – Kathleen Glasgow
- 0.6 Highly Illogical Behavior – John Whaley C.
- 0.7 History Is All You Left Me – Adam Silvera
- 0.8 Hold Still – Nina LaCour
- 0.9 How It Feels to Float – Helena Fox
- 0.10 I Have Lost My Way – Gayle Forman
- 0.11 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
- 0.12 Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
- 0.13 This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales
- 0.14 Turtles All the Way Down – John Green
- 0.15 Wintergirls – Laurie Anderson H.
- 0.16 Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
- 0.17 Symptoms of Being Human – Jeff Garvin
- 0.18 Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
- 0.19 The Illustrated Mum – Jacqueline Wilson
- 0.20 The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
- 0.21 Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
- 0.22 Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
- 0.23 Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone
- 0.24 Speak – Laurie Anderson H.
- 0.25 Suicide Notes – Michael Thomas Ford
- 1 The List – Siobhan Vivian
- 1.1 What We Saw – Aaron Hartzler
- 1.2 Where the Truth Lies – Jessica Warman
- 1.3 Everything is Fine – Ann Dee Ellis
- 1.4 Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock – Mathew Quick
- 1.5 Go Ask Alice – Anonymous
- 1.6 Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven
- 1.7 Hush – Eishes Chayil
- 1.8 It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini
- 1.9 Looking for Alaska – John Green
- 1.10 Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur
- 1.11 Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult
- 1.12 Paper Towns – John Green
- 1.13 All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
- 1.14 Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver
A World without You – Beth Revis
Bo meets Sofia at a coveted academy where both teens get to find out they both have the same mental illness. Sofia eventually takes her life leaving Bo with an obsession to track her down by time travelling.
The personal experiences of Revis with a mentally ill family member guided most aspects of her novel. It is currently a top option for readers who need a perspective on mental health interwoven with a compelling story.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay – Adib Khorram
The novel touches on several topics and shows what a life with clinical depression looks like for many. It talks about suicide in several forms and is one of the most critically-acclaimed debut titles on mental health.
After reading this title, you can grab its sequel – Darius the Great Deserves Better – for a follow-up story.
Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club follows a narrator’s struggle as an insomniac who requires constant attendance to support groups to find sleep. The narrator meets Tyler at a beach and both men set up Fight Club as a secret, bare-knuckle fighting event.
The Fight Club turns into a cult and the anonymous narrator realizes things are out of control very late. This story encapsulates mental health and sanity in a brilliant telling with a compelling plot to boot.
Freshwater – Akwaeke Emezi
Freshwater tells Ada’s story and her struggles with severe fracturing from an early age. Ada heads to the US for her college education, but she encounters a traumatic assault that causes her to develop alternate personalities.
Ada’s two new selves – Asughara and St. Vincent drive her into a hedonistic state and her life adopts a darker tone. Narrations throughout the story come from Ada’s three personalities and births a fresher perspective into mental health issues.
Girl in Pieces – Kathleen Glasgow
Self-harm and suicide attempts drive this story’s plot and is a debut entry from Kathleen Glasgow about mental health problems. Charlie has to recover from the fringes of mental health issues and its push towards cutting and attempting suicide.
The story is one of Glasgow’s most interesting reads and dwells on similar themes used in another title How to Make Friends with the Dark.
Highly Illogical Behavior – John Whaley C.
Lisa Praytor desires freedom for her classmate Solomon, who suffers from acute agoraphobia (fear of open spaces). Her attempts are noble, but she’s not going to find it easy at all.
The story takes a rather light perspective towards mental health while delivering its message through its major characters. Several positive ratings of this title make it one of John Whaley’s most successful novels about mental health.
History Is All You Left Me – Adam Silvera
The story begins after a terrible loss of a friend and a downward spiral towards obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. Griffin has to deal with the symptoms of mental illness while grappling with his lover’s death.
Adam Silvera says the story mirrors his personal experiences with OCD while dealing with a painful loss.
Hold Still – Nina LaCour
Hold Still dwells on love, loss, and redemption and is a clear depiction of mental scarring. Ingrid takes her own life and leaves Caitlin with a feeling of devastation of betrayal. Caitlin finds Ingrid’s journal and relives her last experiences, which drive her to find hope in living once again.
It is a gripping tale of loss and how redemption could cause a turnaround towards handling a friend’s death by suicide. Also, it shows in its telling why suicide might not be the best course for people suffering from disease or mental health problems.
How It Feels to Float – Helena Fox
In How It Feels to Float, Biz struggles with depression and grief while she suffers from an undiagnosed inherited mental health problem. She must navigate her teens without a father who took his own life before several years earlier.
Biz must deal with mental health challenges and constant hallucinations, public attacks, and isolation.
It is one of Helena Fox’s most compelling titles written expertly from the lens of a teen struggling with mental health issues.
I Have Lost My Way – Gayle Forman
Gayle Forman’s I Have Lost My Way details the experiences of three teens grappling with their own personal issues. The trio meet in Central Park, NY, and share their personal struggles with mental health issues.
This story also displays an uncanny intersection of family, identity and love. The title builds on Gayle Forman’s already impressive foray into mental health-related topics.
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar tells Esther Greenwood’s story around a time where she’s at an internship in New York. As a young intern at a demanding media house in the city, Esther finds herself numb and out of touch really fast.
She experiences a downward spiral into depression coupled with attempts at suicide and time in a mental care facility.
Plath wrote this novel to mirror her experience and attempted suicide in the early 1950s. Her motivation to tell the story rests squarely on describing how many people react to grappling with mental health problems.
Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
Clay gets home from school and finds a strange parcel with his name. Inside the parcel, Clay finds different tapes from Hannah Baker, his crush and classmate.
Hannah committed suicide a fortnight earlier and her tapes tell Clay thirteen reasons why she did it. Clay is one of the thirteen reasons why Hannah ended her life. He must listen to these tapes to find out how he partly caused Hannah’s suicide.
Clay gets several directions from Hannah’s tapes and witnesses her plans firsthand. After getting guidance from Hannah’s recordings, what he uncovers will change him forever.
This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales
In This Song Will Save Your Life, Elise Dembowski has to deal with loneliness and bullying that drives her to an attempted suicide. Elise discovers a career path as a DJ is a suitable escape and builds on her love for music to lead a better life.
Leila Sales telling reveals that depression might be easy to surmount whenever we channel our energy towards something productive.
Turtles All the Way Down – John Green
Turtles All the Way Down is a compelling story that details what living with OCD and anxiety feels like. It also follows the story of its main character, Aza, and her attempt to uncover the identity of a secret billionaire.
Aza takes a different focus of all obsessive concerns she has and ways adopted to manage them. The novel is one of John Green’s many titles related to psychological challenges many people grapple with daily.
Wintergirls – Laurie Anderson H.
Laurie Anderson’s Speak is one of her most popular titles on mental health. In Wintergirls, she tells deep stories of anorexia, suicide, and self-harm.
The story follows Lia, a teen who must deal with a friend’s loss while grappling with a life-threatening disease. Lia must develop enough resilience to move on after her friend’s death from the same illness she has.
Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
Antoinette lives with trauma from an early age, as she has to cope with her brother’s death in a fire. Her mother is also consumed by grief, doubling the challenges Antoinette must face as a teen.
Antoinette grows up and marries Mr. Rochester, but rumors about her past ruin their union. Rochester becomes abusive to his wife and flaunts several extramarital affairs in her face.
Antoinette’s husband continues the emotional abuse on his wife until her mental state deteriorates.
Symptoms of Being Human – Jeff Garvin
Riley is gender-queer but isn’t able to share their real personality at their new school. Instead, Riley starts an anon blog to share all feelings they have hidden away for so long.
The story boasts a massive focus on real feelings queer people have to go through every day. It also draws attention to all emotional and physical abuse these people experience and how it affects them mentally.
Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
The 1999 novel tells Joe Rose’s story and his battle with De Clerambault’s Syndrome. Joe’s symptoms makes him harbor a sustained delusion that someone he doesn’t know loves him.
Joe comes across Jed Parry and suspects he’s being stalked after their first meeting. Joe’s partner Clarissa doesn’t understand why Joe is so obsessed with seeing Jed as a stalker. Clarissa begins to doubt Joe’s ability to easily narrate anything and isn’t sure about his sanity.
The Illustrated Mum – Jacqueline Wilson
Jacqueline Wilson tackles adult themes from a child’s narrative in this novel on mental health. Dolphin is a 10-year old and she describes her mother’s experiences with bipolar disorder.
To Dolphin, her mother is a magical person but her older sibling, Star, doesn’t feel the same way. Star’s father returns to be a part of his daughter’s life, leaving Dolphin with her mentally ill mother.
The story captures how young children interpret their experiences living with a mentally ill parent. Dolphin eventually figures out her mother’s mental health isn’t what it should be.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie Kelmeckis returns to school after his discharge from a mental care facility. He still experiences flashbacks of his friend’s and aunt’s death.
Charlie resigns to being a loner at school but is befriended by Patrick and Sam who bring him under their wing. The book explores several themes on domestic violence, sexual abuse and suicide all under a balanced tone.
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
Mrs. Dalloway is a one-day story of Clarissa Dalloway and how she reflects about her life while getting ready for an event. In the story, World War I vet Septimus Smith struggles with PTSD from witnessing a friend’s death.
Both narratives intersect in this title and according to its author helps study suicide and insanity from one perspective. This story also describes how we see our world as normal and crazy at the same time.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
Eleanor is a 9-5er, has no visitors or friends, and spends weekends drinking vodka. She believes her life can’t be any better until she encounters a colleague and a stranger.
Eleanor discovers there’s more to get out of life and her strict routine unravels to accommodate more enjoyable experiences. She comes out of her survival mode and forms new friendships that help her live again.
Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone
Samantha McAllister silently battles with OCD while appearing as a normal teen in her school. Her struggle with OCD plagues her with several intrusive thoughts she finds hard to control.
In this story, she must find a way to blend in with her peers while hiding frequent visits to a psychiatrist.
The author’s inspiration for this story came from a family friend’s diagnosis with OCD at a young age. Her description of the family friend’s condition is meant to show how uplifting living with and overcoming a challenge can be.
Speak – Laurie Anderson H.
Speak is an illustration of several mental health challenges teens and young adults face early on. Melinda reports a sexual assault on her to the authorities and is alienated by her peers for her actions.
She must deal with the mental trauma of experiencing an assault while working out a way to become confident again.
Suicide Notes – Michael Thomas Ford
The story describes an unlikely bond mental health patients might need to manage challenging conditions. It follows the story of Jeff and how he learns caring for mentally ill people can help them lead better lives.
This story interweaves compassion with self-discovery towards showing how we gain much from helping others. It is one of the most compelling stories on assisting people struggling with mental illness.
The List – Siobhan Vivian
Siobhan Vivian describes body shaming and how it mentally affects female teens in today’s world. The book shows why verbal abuses and profiling might be a negative factor in girls’ mental health.
The story follows eight high school girls and their experiences with stereotyping.
What We Saw – Aaron Hartzler
Inspired by true events, What We Saw explores happenings in a scene where people blame victims and show no concern. It follows Kate’s understanding of events that take place around her.
Several valid arguments from this story show why it is wrong to ignore abuse victims. It also shows how failing to care for victims of abuse can negatively affect their mental health.
Where the Truth Lies – Jessica Warman
Emily has a nice life but has a hidden problem suffering from nightmares she finds hard to explain. Love brings her a new feeling and she’s stunned by the affection she receives.
After finding love, she must deal with multiple mental health challenges that have remained hidden for long. Where the Truth Lies is an intersection of love and a struggle to overcome mental health challenges.
Everything is Fine – Ann Dee Ellis
Mazzy’s life isn’t perfect, but she thinks it is as she’s only ever known caring for a catatonic mom as her normal. She has to manage the mental scarring of being abandoned by her father while experiencing multiple hazy thoughts.
Later on in the story, readers will get to see why Mazzy’s family is so damaged. Further in the story, Mazzy summons enough courage to beat her challenges while seeking a bright future.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock – Mathew Quick
The story takes place during Leonard Peacock’s birthday. Leonard seeks revenge on a bully who has been his repeat abuser for some time.
The story shows how trauma and abuse can contribute to mental health problems in young children and adults.
Go Ask Alice – Anonymous
In Go Ask Alice, a girl’s diary and her actions to manage a sudden move are described in detail. She experiences schizophrenia and other issues after indulging drugs to suppress her challenges.
In this story, readers will understand what caused her issues and if she eventually overcomes her mental health issues.
Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven
Knowing what someone hides behind a smile is almost impossible to uncover. And in Holding Up the Universe, several stories of people who struggle through mental issues to find happiness are brought to light.
Multiple twists in this tale look deeper into how a couple becomes happy, or is there more to this story?
Hush – Eishes Chayil
Hush unpacks several challenges teens face whenever they advocate for the right things to be done. The story is set in an environment where cover-ups are common among teens.
Gittel witnesses an assault and intends to report the incident. However, a scheming cover-up from her peers makes her task more difficult than ever.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini
Ned Vizzini explores this story through Craig Gilner’s eyes and his battle with stress and depression. Gilner’s struggles land him in a care institution for mentally ill people where he begins to find hope.
This story focuses on the severe nature of mental illness some teens face with balanced humor in-between.
Looking for Alaska – John Green
Miles is in an Alabama boarding school and has an uncanny obsession with many famous last words. He becomes friends with many schoolmates with one of them being his crush, Alaska.
Miles’s infatuation towards Alaska is overshadowed by her constant actions to hide a darker side. Alaska struggles to warm up to Miles and he’s resilient to never let her go.
This story details many challenges faced by teens and shares a plotline akin to many popular mental health novels.
Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur
Rupi Kaur writes four poems in Milk and Honey. These poems highlight multiple aspects faced by an individual struggling with mental health issues.
The 4-part title adopts a lady’s voice and details her struggles after being sexually assaulted. The main character progresses and discovers a way to find true healing from her struggles.
Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult’s novel tells the tale of Peter Houghton and his reasons behind carrying out a mass shooting at his school. Peter’s armed assault leaves ten people dead and leaves others with injuries.
The novel’s chapters uncovers Peter’s motive and reveals survivors’ points of view as the story progresses. Peter’s crime is horrible, but we begin to see why he carried out such an act after reading through this story.
Paper Towns – John Green
Paper Towns follows Quentin and his undying infatuation for a neighbor, Margot. While Quentin is ready to do anything for Margot, she doesn’t feel a thing for her neighbor.
Margot decides to take advantage of Quentin’s obsession and enlists his help to get revenge on her classmates.
Many sections of Paper Towns deal with mental health challenges young people face after losing their first love.
All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
In this story, Jennifer Niven describes Theodore Finch as someone fascinated by death. Finch comes across Violet Markey and they become romantically involved.
The story combines grief and romance with unmatched wit. It stands as one of the best novels on mental health issues all readers can enjoy.
Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver
Before I fall follows Sam’s seemingly wonderful life. Events take a dark turn in this book as Sam dies in a crash after attending a Cupid’s Day party.
Sam relives the experience many times and follows different paths but ends up dead every time. It is a compelling story told from an unconventional perspective to illustrate mental health issues.